Citing “unfinished business,” Los Angeles owner Arte Moreno decided not to sell his team, shocking the industry and surprising many throughout the organization.
On Monday afternoon, five months after basically announcing plans to move on, Moreno issued a 132-word statement read in part: “[A]As the conversation progressed and crystallized, we realized that our hearts were with the Angels and we were not ready to part ways with our fans, players and staff.”
Moreno, 76, bought the Angels from Walt Disney Co. for $183.5 million in 2003, the year after the first and only championship in franchise history, and watched the team’s value skyrocket in the years that followed. Forbes valued angels at $2.2 billion in March 2022. Potential sales were widely expected to be somewhere around $2.5 billion. Golden State Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong are among those interested, and a sale is 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 the franchise he had led for two decades. Sources disputed that, but prospective buyers may not have met Moreno’s asking price.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement: “While the Angels have a lot of buyer interest, Arte Moreno’s love for the game is paramount to him. I am thrilled that the Moreno family has decided to continue ownership of the team.”
On August 22, Moreno announced that the team had retained financial advisors Galatioto Sports Partners to assist with a potential sale. Although it was exploratory from the start, there was a sense throughout the sport that the Angels would indeed sell out. “Now is the time,” Moreno wrote as part of his statement.
More than three months later, at MLB’s winter meetings in San Diego, Manfred gave the impression that the process is still ongoing, saying “there are many aspects to the data room” — which interested buyers can keep an eye on. on the team’s finances — adding that “the club wants to settle the sale before opening day.” Since then, prospective buyers have been toured the ballpark, sources said. However, it is not clear whether an official proposal has been submitted.
The 2023 season will be Moreno’s 21st as owner of the Angels. It’s unclear how long he’ll keep the franchise going, 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 had unfinished business and we felt that we could make a positive impact on the future of the team and the fans,” Moreno said in a statement. “This offseason, we committed to paying franchise-record players, and we look forward to fulfilling our goal of returning a World Series championship to our fans. We are excited for the next chapter of Angels Baseball.”
Moreno, the first Hispanic owner of a major U.S. sports team, immediately gained credibility after taking the position. He lowered the price of beer, signed Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, and watched the Angels begin a dominant run under Mike Scioscia, winning five division titles in a six-year span from 2004-2009.
But the Angels have made just one postseason appearance since then. During that time, Moreno has drawn increasing criticism for not winning around the talents of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Moreno has been accused of 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 raising the luxury tax threshold to compensate for deficiencies in those areas.
In recent years, under Moreno, the Angels have become the face of wider problems in the international market, including the treatment of minor leaguers and the lack of bonuses. But the biggest black spot surrounds the overdose death of young pitcher Tyler Skaggs in 2019, which led to a 22-year prison sentence for Eric Kay, the team’s longtime public relations officer. A wrongful-death lawsuit related to Skaggs’ death is pending, among other lawsuits.
Moreno pushed the salary cap this offseason, allowing general manager Perry Minasian to spend several veteran players through trades and free agency to help deepen the roster as he pursues a postseason berth. The Angels also declined to move Ohtani in his free-agent year, at least keeping the option to extend him.
Opened in 1966, Angel Stadium is the fourth oldest major stadium and is in need of major renovations. Moreno negotiated twice to buy the ballpark and surrounding land, which was later destroyed by an FBI investigation into the former mayor of Anaheim.
But Angel Stadium’s proximity to major highways and theme parks, and the prospect of building something around it, are believed to have attracted the attention of prospective owners. So was the Angels’ big media rights deal, a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Fox in the 2012 season. Those factors, along with the rarity of a baseball franchise in Southern California, led to speculation that the Angels could be sold for $3 billion.
Such assumptions are no longer necessary.