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Angels, Anaheim Take Step Toward Possible Settlement

September 06, 1986|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

The City of Anaheim and the California Angels agreed Friday to dismiss most of the lawsuits and counter-complaints they have filed against each other for two years, possibly paving the way for settlement of a larger lawsuit now in its 10th month of trial.

Angels owner Gene Autry and Anaheim Mayor Donald R. Roth--white plume pens in hand--signed the documents which dismiss legal actions each side has called harassment. The new agreement also includes various amendments to the Angels-Anaheim lease.

One of the new agreements will result in a 2.5% surcharge--about a nickel--on beer sales at the stadium to pay for city police security at the games. "In essence, beer drinkers will pay for the police," said Michael Schreter, vice president of Golden West Baseball Co., the Angels' parent organization.

No Negotiations Scheduled

The dismissal of the peripheral legal disputes may lead to settlement talks of the much larger lawsuit filed by the Angels against the city, officials on both sides said Friday. No negotiation meetings, however, have been set.

"What we have today is an example of the type of cooperation that will lead to resolving" the larger lawsuit to block construction of a high-rise structure on the Anaheim Stadium parking lot, Roth told about 75 people who had gathered for the ceremony at the stadium.

Surrounded by white and pink balloons, a bar, and tables topped with platters of salmon and cheeses, Roth told Autry: "The Angels always have been and will continue to be our No. 1 tenant. We love you Gene, and I'd like to present to you the first button that I hope spells the future for the city and the Angels: We're Back Together Again."

'It Certainly Won't Hurt'

Angels attorney Don Morrow said the agreements were "a step in the right direction" and a sample of a more cooperative "attitude." But those agreements don't guarantee that the main lawsuit now in Orange County Superior Court will be resolved, he said. "It won't help, but it certainly won't hurt."

The city and the Angels have been at war since August, 1983, when the ballclub filed a $100-million lawsuit against Anaheim to prevent construction of the high-rise on part of the Anaheim Stadium parking lot. At the heart of the suit is the question of who has the ultimate rights to the parking lot: the Angels or the city.

Since legal maneuvering began, only one lawsuit has been settled out of court. That one, regarding which party should pay for security services at the stadium, was settled in July, 1985.

Friday's agreement--the most far-reaching yet between the two sides--dismisses several legal battles but leaves others unsolved.

The legal disputes dismissed Friday were:

- A cross-complaint filed by the city against the Angels on Feb. 29, 1984, for allegedly falsifying information about television revenues.

- A lawsuit filed by the Angels on July 8, 1985, to recover money it alleged that the city had withheld. The city had reduced the Angels' share of concession and parking profits to pay for charges the city said the ballclub owed. Anaheim had levied extra charges after it installed outfield seats. The Angels refused to pay the higher charges.

- A lawsuit filed by the Angels on Jan. 31, 1985, alleging that Anaheim improperly withheld payments from tickets, television and other sources due the ballclub.

- A cross-complaint filed by the city on July 15, 1985, in the so-called payments case, alleging that the ballclub did not get its fair share of the revenues from tickets, television and other sources.

Among the issues yet to be settled is whether the city has the right to retain the Union 76 sign at the stadium. But both sides agreed Friday to ask retired Judge Warren Knight to arbitrate the matter next March, attorneys said.

Angels officials filed a lawsuit on June 27, 1985, demanding that the city remove the Union 76 sign. They cited portions of the lease which gives the Angels "the right of approval" regarding "sponsorships and other factors" affecting the ball club. Chevron is an Angels' sponsor.

In turn, the city filed a cross-complaint on Aug. 30, 1985, alleging that the Angels were guilty of unfair business practices and violation of antitrust laws by trying to prohibit Anaheim from selling signs.

Also not included in the agreement is a lawsuit against Anaheim City Manager William O. Talley, whom the Angels accuse of using "fraud and deceit" to try to deprive the ballclub of its parking lot rights. Morrow said the negotiations dealt with disputes between the Angels and the city, not between the Angels and Talley.

A Key Figure

Talley was a key figure in the negotiations dealing with the development of a parking lot agreement with the Anaheim Stadium Associates, a company that includes the Los Angeles Rams' interests. The office complex development was part of the package deal which lured the Rams to move to Anaheim in 1978.

Autry has consistently said that the city "sold the same horse twice" by signing the agreement with the Rams. On Friday, Autry declined to discuss the parking lot lawsuit, which has now cost each party millions of dollars.

Walking with the aid of one crutch, Autry, who recently underwent surgery for a broken hip, said of the agreements he signed: "I'm a little bit shaky on signing something because I signed something one night and I woke up the next morning and was married."

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