January 07, 2005

Suburban flight: Anaheim denied

For the last half century, the trend in America has been to leave the cold, hard city for quiet suburban bliss. In professional sports, it's the opposite, as demonstrated by the Angels desire to reunite with Los Angeles.

Today, the city of Anaheim was denied a temporary restraining order in its attempt to keep the Angels from adding Los Angeles to their name.

Anaheim, drawing fans from Newport Beach, Fullerton, Irvine and the rest of Orange County, was good enough for the third-best attendance in baseball, but Angel owner Arte Moreno wanted more. He wanted L.A.

What he came up with was the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim," a name chastised by the city. Around the baseball world, it's rightfully been called "unwieldy, confusing and stupid."

The first rule of marketing, and perhaps lots of other stuff, is not to confuse people. "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" sounds temporary and low-rent, like the drunk cousin who crashes on your couch for a couple months.

But it's not really about that. It's about finding a way to put "L.A." on a t-shirt or baseball cap. Imagine the logo. The name "Anaheim" gets smaller and smaller until – poof – it disappears completely. "Anaheim" was already removed from all Angels uniforms, advertisements and media guides last season.

So it's "Los Angeles Angels" then, for all intents and purposes, three cities with two teams: New York, Chicago and L.A.

BPF Take
Orange County is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas of the country, boasting a population of 2,925,700 as of January 2001. That’s more than Philadelphia.

The Angels, as a franchise, have all the chips in place to be a model organization. They drew 41,000 fans a game last year, have a premier star in AL MVP Vlad Guerraro, and perhaps the third-best team in all of baseball behind the Yankees and Red Sox. What's the problem?

This is a case of an owner who wants too much, too soon. He wants it all; he wants to conquer the L.A. and the Latino market, despite an economically viable market in his own back yard.

I'm not sold on the suburbs as a place to stick a sports team, arguing heavily against moving a team to Northern Virginia, but that was an argument against the sticky situation of organizing public support, which Anaheim has already done. The team is already there.

Staying affiliated with Orange County and not alienating the city of Anaheim seems like the smart play in this case. "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" is a marketing travesty. If you want to change the name, change it to "Orange County Angels" or O.C. Angels, for short. The team could also capitalize on the buzz created by the "O.C." television show. That's your vehicle to sell caps.

More than money or marketing, most important of all is this is Anaheim's team, not L.A.'s team. That's the pact you make when you accept $30 million in public subsidies to renovate a ballpark.


At 3:48 PM, Blogger will travel said...

Orange County is confusing...it's airport is refered to as Orange County Airport, Anaheim Airport, Santa Ana Airport...it's official name is John Wayne Airport...how about the John Wayne Angels

At 9:23 AM, Blogger el123chico said...

why not even los angelos, CA angels of anaheim? or even the west coast angels? is 'america's team' still taken?


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