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ANGEL REPORT

Drawing Even With the Dodgers

May 06, 2003|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The Angels and Dodgers face each other only in interleague games but the Angels might nonetheless score an unprecedented victory over the Dodgers this season. For the first time since the Angels were born in 1961, they could draw more fans than the Dodgers.

The Angels lead the major leagues in attendance, with the Dodgers ranking third.

Whereas the Dodgers regularly draw 3 million fans, the Angels never have done so.

But the Angels' wild success at the gate this year, in the wake of the World Series championship, supports the long-held view of major league officials that the Orange County market is a potential gold mine, with booming population and enviable demographics. The Angels did not need to be moved or folded, but they did need ownership committed to winning and spending major league marketing dollars.

Kevin Uhlich, the Angels' senior vice president of business operations, said the Angels and Dodgers could each draw 3 million fans this season.

"I don't think we'll do it at the expense of the other," Uhlich said. "It's good for us, and good for the game, that 6 million people in the Southland will come to games. I think there's enough to go around.

"We've ... become more popular. But we've never been able to solidify it by having back-to-back good years."

Indeed, the Angels' on-field performance is eerily similar to those of 1980, 1983 and 1987. In each of those years, following a division championship, the Angels posted a losing record. And the Angels open a six-game homestand tonight in last place in the American League West.

With season-ticket sales all but over, the Angels need a contending team to generate the excitement that compels fans to buy tickets for individual games. The Angels have sold 2.25 million tickets so far, an increase of 1 million over the same date last year, Uhlich said.

They have sold out seven of their first 15 home games. Still, they must average 36,000 fans a game from now on to hit the 3-million mark.

"This is the best chance we've had for 3 million," Uhlich said.

*

ON DECK

Opponent -- Cleveland Indians, three games.

Site -- Edison Field.

Radio -- KSPN (710), XKAM (950).

TV -- Channel 9 tonight, Fox Sports Net Wednesday and Thursday.

Records -- Angels 13-17, Indians 9-21.

Record vs. Indians -- 2-0.

Tonight, 7 -- Jarrod Washburn (2-3, 4.29) vs. Ricardo Rodriguez (2-2, 3.32).

Wednesday, 7 p.m. -- John Lackey (1-3, 7.23) vs. Brian Anderson (2-3, 4.55).

Thursday, 7 p.m. -- Kevin Appier (1-2, 7.36) vs. Jason Davis (2-3, 6.39).

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