The Los Angeles Angels may not be “of Anaheim” for too much longer. The team announced on Tuesday that they’re opting out of their stadium lease with the city of Anaheim.
The Angels have been in Anaheim since moving into Angel Stadium (which has had several names) in 1966. It’s the fourth-oldest ballpark in the majors behind Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Dodger Stadium.
Back in February of 2017, team owner Arte Moreno said that the Angels would not opt out of their lease, and would stay in Angel Stadium until the lease ran out in 2029. Obviously something has changed in the 20 months since he said that.
The timing of this announcement is interesting, because it occurs less than a month before Anaheim will elect a new mayor. According to Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times, the current mayor (who is not running for reelection) was against the city making a stadium renovation deal with the Angels back in 2013. Negotiations broke down, and the team ended them in 2014. Without a renovation deal, they started looking at other cities in the area to build a new ballpark.
However, an Angels spokesperson told Shaikin that the timing is just a coincidence.
Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said the decision to opt out was not meant to influence voters. She said the lease required the team to opt out no later than Tuesday or wait until 2028 for another chance to do so.
“It’s today, or 10 years from now,” Garvey said. “There’s no option in between.”
The Angels opting out of their stadium lease sounds scary, but it doesn’t mean they won’t have a place to play in 2019. While the terms of their lease requires them to opt out now, it doesn’t take effect until after the 2019 season.
Additionally, the Angels may not actually leave Anaheim. The team will be sitting down with the new mayor to discuss their options, which could include a renovation agreement. And that might end up being the best or even only option for the Angels, since they would likely have to fund a new ballpark in a new city entirely themselves, or with private (not public) funding.
Of course, if the Angels do end up moving, the biggest question is whether they would pay tribute to their past and add their actual city of residence to the end of the team name. The Los Angeles Angels of Irvine. The Los Angeles Angels of Yorba Linda. The Los Angeles Angels of the City of Industry. All of those just roll off the tongue, don’t they? Well, no worse than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
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