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Judge Rules Expert Witness Can't Testify

January 26, 2006|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist will not be allowed to testify on behalf of the city of Anaheim, a trial judge ruled Wednesday.

In analyzing the effect of the Angels' name change, Zimbalist calculated the city had foregone $138.5 million by signing a long-term lease with the team rather than demolishing the stadium, selling the land and reaping taxes from property development.

But that analysis does not offer "the proper measure of damages" in a breach-of-contract case, Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Polos ruled. If the Angels have broken their lease by adding "Los Angeles" to their name and dropping "Anaheim" from use, he said, the damages should reflect the value of the actual benefits lost by the city.

On that score, the city has two other expert analyses, each estimating the loss of Anaheim -- and of the "ANA" shorthand -- in national media outlets could cost about $191 million in exposure through 2016, when the Angels can opt out of the lease. Polos indicated the authors of those reports could testify.

The city has yet to ask for a specific amount in damages. The Angels challenge such figures as "speculative" and argue Anaheim has suffered no economic harm, since record ticket sales have resulted in record revenue sharing with the city, and tourism and tax revenue is up since the name change.

Anaheim attorney Andy Guilford said he might ask that Zimbalist be allowed to rebut the Angels on those issues.

In court, Guilford accepted congratulations from Polos and the attorneys on both sides. Guilford, a past president of the state bar, was nominated Wednesday by President Bush as a judge of the U.S. District Court. With Senate confirmation no sooner than 30 days away, Guilford said he would finish the trial.

Court is not in session today. Angel President Dennis Kuhl and former Anaheim mayor Tom Daly are scheduled witnesses Friday.

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Although the Angels have not accepted a long-term contract extension from FSN, the cable channel remains interested in expanding its Angel broadcast schedule this season.

To preserve the option to start his own cable channel in 2009, Angel owner Arte Moreno has passed up the 10-year extension, valued at about $340 million. But FSN remains willing to discuss a long-term extension as well as a revised deal for this year, said Randy Freer, chief operating officer of Fox Sports Networks.

"We continue to talk to the Angels about their television options," he said.

FSN aired 102 games last season but has selected 50 this season, the minimum required under its current contract with the Angels. The Angels also are in talks to air remaining games on Channels 5, 13 and 30.

Also, club spokesman Tim Mead confirmed that the team is close to an agreement to buy 830 AM and said the Angels would air their Spanish broadcasts there "if a deal gets done." The English broadcasts would "absolutely" continue to air on 710 this season; the Angels' agreement there expires after next season.

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