Citing “unfinished business,” Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno has decided his team is no longer for sale, a change of heart that stunned the industry and shocked many across the organization. .
On Monday afternoon, five months after announcing plans to move on, Moreno released a 132-word statement which read, in part: “[A]Our discussions continued and we began to crystallize, we realized that our hearts are still with the Angels, and that we are not ready to part with our fans, players and staff.”
Moreno, 76, bought the Angels from The Walt Disney Company for $183.5 million in 2003, the year after the first and only championship in franchise history, and watched the team skyrocket in value over on the coming years. Forbes valued the Angels at $2.2 billion in March 2022. Potential sales were expected to be somewhere close to $2.5 billion. Golden State Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong were reported to be among those interested, with a sale expected in the coming months.
But a source familiar with Moreno’s thinking said that as the process continued and a potential sale moved into late stages, it became increasingly difficult for Moreno to part with a franchise that he has been president for two decades. It’s also possible that prospective buyers didn’t meet Moreno’s asking price, although the source disputed that notion.
In a statement, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wrote: “Despite strong customer interest in the Angels, Arte Moreno’s love for the game is more important to him. I am very happy that the Moreno family has decided to continue with the team.
Back on August 22, Moreno announced that the team had retained financial advisorsfront. Although it was initially billed as a study in nature, the consensus throughout the sport was that the Angels would indeed be sold. Moreno said as much in part of his statement, writing: “Now is the time.”
A little more than three months later, at MLB’s winter meetings in San Diego, Manfred made it seem like the process was underway, saying there were “multiple parties in the data room” — where interested buyers to take a closer look. team finance – saying the club would like to settle the sale before Opening Day. Since then, prospective buyers have been given tours of the ballpark, a source said. But it is not known if any formal applications were heard.
The 2023 season will be Moreno’s 21st as the owner of the Angels. It is not certain how long he will keep the franchise, or if any of his three children will eventually change their minds and be interested in filling his shoes.
“During this process, it became clear that we have unfinished business and that we feel we can positively impact the future of the team and the fan experience,” Moreno wrote in the statement. “This season we are committed to the franchise player payroll and we still want to achieve our goal of bringing a World Series Championship back to our fans. We are excited about this next chapter of Angels Baseball.”
Moreno, the first Hispanic owner of a major sports team in the US, was immediately credited when he took over. He lowered beer prices, signed Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, and watched as the Angels, under Mike Scioscia, began a major run of five division titles over a six-year stretch from 2004 to 2009.
But the Angels have only made the postseason once since. In that area, Moreno has received more criticism for not putting a successful product around the transcendent talents of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Moreno has been caught not investing enough in scouting and player development, not allocating enough financial resources to put the Angels on par with other analytically minded franchises and not to exceed the luxury tax threshold to make up for deficiencies in these areas.
In recent years, the Angels, under Moreno, have also faced broader issues regarding the handling of minor league players and the revocation of bonuses in the international market. But the biggest black mark surrounded the overdose death of junior pitcher Tyler Skaggs in 2019, which prompted a 22-year prison sentence for Eric Kay, a longtime member of the team’s public relations department. A wrongful death lawsuit over Skaggs’ death is still pending, among other lawsuits.
Moreno pushed the payroll to record numbers this season, allowing general manager Perry Minasian to spend on several veteran players – both via trade and free agency – that would help by deepening the roster as they chased a postseason berth. The Angels also decided not to trade Ohtani entering his free agent year, keeping at least an outside chance to extend him.
Angel Stadium, which opened in 1966, stands as the fourth oldest ballpark in the majors and is in dire need of major renovations. Moreno has twice negotiated deals with the city of Anaheim to buy the ballpark and surrounding land that later fell apart, most recently due to an FBI investigation into to the former mayor of Anaheim.
But Angel Stadium’s proximity to major highways and theme parks, and the prospect of building something around it, proved attractive to prospective owners. So was the Angels’ substantive media rights deal, a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Fox that took effect in the 2012 season. basket they have in Southern California, some have thought that the Angels could sell for up to $3 billion.
That speculation is no longer necessary.