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This is so unbelievablly stupid and the city of Anaheim still plans to sue., because it violates a lease agreement.

Well, it remains to be seen whether the name the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" violates the lease agreement. It depends on how good the city's lawyers were in drafting the provision.

If the lease provides that the name of the ballclub shall refer to "Anaheim," then I think the Angels win. The new name still refers to Anaheim.

If the lease provides that the name of the ballclub shall be the "Anaheim Angels" and shall refer to no other geographic area, then I think the Angels lose.

And even in that second scenario, the question is: what's the remedy?

If the lease provides for injunctive relief -- i.e., an order from the court that the club may refer to itself only as the "Anaheim Angels" -- that's the best scenario for the city.

If the lease instead provides for liquidated damages -- i.e., payment by the club to the city of an amount equal to the city's investment in the renovations or some other stipulated amount -- or for damages in an amount to be proven at trial, then I think the Angels have to make a business decision as to whether the advertising advantages of being the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" outweigh the damages for which they'll be liable. In that case, I think you're likely to see an out-of-court settlement.

My billable rate is $210/hour, but for you guys that unsolicited legal opinion* is rendered gratis. Enjoy.

* - The foregoing legal opinion is for entertainment purposes only and should not be relied upon in any manner whatsoever. Amare32 is not licensed to practice in the State of California. Persons interested in the foregoing matter should contact an attorney licensed to practice in the State of California.

Looks like I nailed it...again. B)

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Jury rules against Anaheim over Angels' name change

Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A jury ruled Thursday that the Angels did not breach a contract with the city of Anaheim when the baseball team changed its name.

Jurors rejected the city of Anaheim's argument that the baseball team violated a stadium lease and cost the city where it plays at least $100 million in revenue by changing the name last year from Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The jury, which deliberated about five hours, also found the team did not violate a state law requiring good faith and fair dealing.

"I was trying to create something positive and more inclusive ... which we believed was our legal right to do," Angels owner Arte Moreno said. "Long-term, we're going to have a healthier franchise that can compete."

Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle was disappointed, adding the case was about more than just a name change. It was "to make sure the identity of our community, both in Orange County and in the city of Anaheim, was preserved," Pringle said.

The city sued the Angels for breach of contract in January 2005, shortly after Moreno changed the name.

City officials said the change cost Anaheim at least $100 million in lost tourism, publicity and so-called "impressions" -- buzz the city gets each time its name appears in the national media in conjunction with a major-league baseball team.

City officials also claimed The Walt Disney Co., which sold the franchise to Moreno in 2003, agreed to call the team the Anaheim Angels and signed a 1996 stadium lease agreement committing to that.

Although the lease language said only the name shall "include" the word Anaheim, the city said Disney promised to call the team the Anaheim Angels in exchange for concessions, including stadium repairs and the use of the stadium itself.

Moreno maintained that changing the name did not violate the contract because he kept Anaheim in it. He said he wanted to use Los Angeles to capitalize on the second-largest media market in the nation, adding the new name would attract more publicity, broadcasting contracts and sponsors.

Pringle said the city, which spent $2 million on legal fees, had not decided whether to appeal. The matter could be discussed at next week's City Council meeting.

The judge in the case could still decide to issue an injunction changing the team's name back to the Anaheim Angels. A hearing to discuss that possibility was scheduled for March 2.

Testimony during the monthlong trial included statements from former Disney executives and city officials who negotiated the 1996 stadium lease, sports marketing experts who testified as to the value of the team name for Anaheim and Moreno, who took the stand on three different days.

The Angels began play in 1961 as the Los Angeles Angels, becoming the California Angels when the team moved from Los Angeles to Anaheim in 1966. The name was changed to the Anaheim Angels in 1997 after Disney bought the team from founding owner Gene Autry.

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It's telling that even jurors who don't like the name, who hate being associated with LA, had to rule for the club.

The City of Anaheim blew it. Plain and simple. And in trying to fight this they compounded their error, by sticking the taxpayers with the cost of their mistake.

Time for the city fathers to get used to it. The Los Angeles Angels are back.

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