Weekly Column: Angels (MLB) New Ownership Could Bring Innovation

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder Jeremy Evans has written a column about the potential of the Los Angeles Angels to innovate and grow with new ownership.

You can read the full column below.

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The Los Angeles Angels have a storied history in the city of Los Angeles. A history that may surprise many as it predates the Los Angeles Dodgers as a minor league club dating back to 1892. The American League Angels club was made an official Major League Baseball team in 1961 and the franchise kept the Los Angeles namesake until 1965 when it changed the team name to the California Angels and held that name until 1996. Then in 1997, the Anaheim Angels. Then in 2005, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and finally back to the Los Angeles Angels in 2016, the same name it holds today. The minor league Angels played in Wrigley Field-Los Angeles in South Los Angeles near the University of Southern California for thirty years before moving to its current home, Angel Stadium, in 1966.

The Angels history and connection to the city of Los Angeles is strong and may become stronger with Los Angeles Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong considering a bid to purchase the franchise as current owner Arte Moreno considers selling the team. Dr. Soon-Shiong is a billionaire businessman and former transplant surgeon and has bid on professional teams before. The Angels franchise finds itself in hot water as the Mayor of Anaheim has resigned amid allegations that he took bribes to secure development and re-development of the Angel Stadium site. There is also the tragic drug-related death of former Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs and conviction of a former Angels employee. On the field, the team is struggling to find wins even though it has two of the best players in Major League Baseball on its roster, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. For example, Mike Trout has fifteen total plate appearances in the playoffs—all in one losing series in 2014. The Angeles have not made the playoffs since 2014.

However, the Angels have the tenth highest payroll in baseball for 2022 and with the exception of one season have ranked in the top five to ten of teams in attendance since 2001. The Dodgers to the north have consistently ranked first in attendance and have made the playoffs for ten straight years winning their division in every year except one. By comparison, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has 352 plate appearances during the same time frame as Mike Trout (2014-2021). The Dodgers consistently have one of the best farm systems (no. 2 for 2022), while the Angels have consistently had one of the worst (no. 30, dead last, for 2022). The Angels are ranked ninth in valuation for 2022 at $2.2 billion, a little more than what the Dodgers were sold for a decade ago in 2012 ($2.15 billion). The Angels, if Moreno sells, is likely to fetch close to $3 billion with potential for site development/redevelopment or a move to Long Beach on the waterfront.

A move to Long Beach would immediately increase franchise value with a new stadium and additional set of fans. It would also mean a move from Orange County to Los Angeles County—so potentially a loss of fans too. Of course, the key ingredient to challenge the status quo is to win ball games. If the Angels find a new owner, a new or renovated stadium, while keeping connections to their Orange County roots, there is massive success available for the club. The Angels do not need to be the Dodgers to be successful—they can indeed be different, find their winning identity, and work towards what makes any franchise great (player development, spending money on good free agents, retaining your best players, and having a great place to play baseball). If sports betting passes via Proposition 27 this November in California, there will be additional opportunities for growth. The Angels could also be very popular staying in Anaheim, but innovation will be essential.     

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About Jeremy M. Evans:  

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.

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Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele and is licensed to practice law in California.