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A NEW HOME FOR THE ANGELS: EDISON INTERNATIONAL FIELD
OF ANAHEIM

Angels Aren't Only Show in Town

Stadium: Starting with a country music festival, Edison Field will host a variety of events, including soccer and football games.

March 23, 1998|BILL SHAIKIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tim Salmon will play at Edison Field in April. So will George Strait, and for that Disney can't wait.

Sure, the Angels invite you to watch Salmon, their best player, and all his teammates. But the April 25 country music festival, with Strait the headline act on a bill that includes Faith Hill, John Michael Montgomery and four other artists, marks the first non-baseball event at the renovated stadium.

"That is going to be a big day for us," Angels director of stadium operations Kevin Uhlich said. "We're back in the stadium business."

In order to expedite the $117 million renovation project started in the fall of 1996, Disney management refused to accommodate most non-baseball events traditionally held in the stadium. Now Disney wants those events back, and more.

Soccer tops the sporting agenda, with both Disney and Major League Soccer interested in holding exhibitions at Edison Field. If those matches sell well, MLS will consider placing an expansion team in Anaheim.

MLS hopes to stage an August match at Edison Field, probably featuring an international club. However, Disney rejected an MLS proposal for a June exhibition between the Galaxy and Kansas City Wizards.

"We really want to kick off soccer with a bang," Uhlich said. "We're hoping to start with an international flavor."

The stadium will host the Sept. 26 football game between two of California's most celebrated prep teams, Mater Dei and Concord De La Salle. The Southern Section football and baseball championships also are expected to return to the stadium, Uhlich said.

Pace Motorsports has committed to stage a motocross event at Edison Field in January, Uhlich said.

The Harvest Crusade, the Christian music and prayer festival, will return this summer.

Uhlich hopes to attract additional festivals and concerts. Under its agreement with the city of Anaheim, Disney operates the stadium and retains virtually all revenues from events held there.

"I'm committed to bring more events here," he said.

With this week's grand opening of Edison Field, Uhlich has much more time to find and book those events. Uhlich, retained by Disney after the company purchased the Angels from the Autry family, has coordinated stadium renovation and reconstruction projects for the past six years.

"Now I get down to actually operating this thing," he said.

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