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Anaheim Legal Bill: $1.1 Million

October 12, 2005|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The city of Anaheim has spent more than $1 million on its lawsuit against the Angels, raising the possibility that taxpayers could have nothing to show for the millions the team has contributed to the city treasury.

"That's a concern we've had from the beginning," Councilman Richard Chavez said. "We feel we're hedging our bets based on good legal advice."

When the city filed suit, council members said they would fund the legal battle with the city's share of Angel Stadium ticket sales and parking fees -- in essence, using the team's money to sue the team.

The legal costs totaled $1,126,567 through Aug. 31, city officials said Tuesday. With the Jan. 9 trial date still months away, those costs could double by the end of a trial, said Sheldon Eisenberg of the Santa Monica law firm Bryan Cave.

Once this season's check is cut, the Angels will have paid the city about $5 million in revenue sharing since Arte Moreno bought the team in 2003. Before then, the Angels' attendance did not exceed the threshold that triggered revenue sharing.

If the city's legal bills double, and if the city loses at trial and must reimburse the Angels' legal bills as well, Anaheim's liability could well exceed $5 million.

The city contends the Angels' addition of Los Angeles to their name violates the stadium lease and eliminates what might be hundreds of millions worth of exposure for Anaheim. If the city wins, it could recoup those alleged damages.

Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle said the council balanced the financial risk of the lawsuit against the principle and potential reward behind it. "Part of being a proper steward of taxpayers' money," he said, "is making sure taxpayers are not taken advantage of on prior investments."

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