June 04, 2014

Rebranding in Professional Sports: The Bad, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California

by Guest Blogger

Today continues our three part series on rebranding in professional sports, which examines the good, the bad, and the unknown. Last month, we covered the good, Sporting Kansas City. This week we cover the bad (or, to be more fair, not so good), the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Let's travel back to 2005. Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah's couch. Brad Pitt broke up with Jennifer Aniston. And the Anaheim Angels were rebranded the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That's the story we want to discuss. So, let's travel back a bit further.


In 1961, the Los Angeles Angels joined Major League Baseball, and an identity crisis was born. Less than five years later, the team rebranded as the California Angels and moved from Los Angeles to Anaheim. That name stuck for over thirty years until the team was purchased by Disney in 1997. After Disney purchased the team, it spent around $90 million renovating Anaheim Stadium. The City of Anaheim contributed an additional $30 million to the renovation in exchange for a guarantee that the team name would include the word "Anaheim." Thus, the team became known as the Anaheim Angels, a name that lasted until - you guessed it if you were reading closely - 2005.

In 2005, owner Arte Moreno (who had purchased the team from Disney in 2003) rebranded the team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. His goal was to leverage Los Angeles, the second largest media market in the USA. Many fans were less than thrilled about the decision, even though a large number still thought of the team as the California Angels. The City of Anaheim was outraged. It decided to file a lawsuit against Moreno. The City lost the lawsuit, which cost both the team and taxpayers a significant amount of money. Now, rumors abound that things may go back to where they started, and the team will officially be rebranded again as the Los Angeles Angels.

Other than the significant money spent litigating over the 2005 rebranding, it is unclear what impact the constant flip-flopping has had on the brand. The Angels were popular during their California and Anaheim iterations and remain popular today. The team won the World Series in 2002 as the Anaheim Angels and has remained competitive since rebranding as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. If nothing else, all the rebranding has caused confusion among casual fans, diehard fans, and sports editors. Here's hoping that the next rebrand will be successfull . . . and last for more than a few years. With Angels in the Outfield, anything is possible.

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