Don't call them the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim just yet.
The Anaheim City Council emerged from a closed-door meeting Tuesday evening vowing to appeal a Jan. 21 Orange County Superior Court ruling that denied the city's request to bar the Anaheim Angels baseball team from changing its name.
The vote was 4-1, with Councilwoman Lorri Galloway opposing the appeal. The council also voted unanimously to continue its lawsuit against the owner of the Angels, claiming the team violated its lease, and hired a prominent trial attorney to its legal team.
"The city of Anaheim feels that naming rights for the baseball franchise were essentially purchased by the Anaheim taxpayers when we negotiated the stadium lease," said John Nicoletti, a spokesman for the city. He said the appeal would be filed in the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, but didn't say when.
The Angels signed a 33-year lease with the city to lease what is now called Angel Stadium of Anaheim in 1996.
Angels owner Arte Moreno purchased the team from Walt Disney Co. after the 2002 baseball season. He announced the name change in early January as a means of broadening the team's sponsorship, advertising and fan base.
"Obviously this is an emotional issue for Southern California's baseball fans and we believe an overwhelming majority do not want this ridiculous name change," said Nicoletti.
The City Council's decision follows a Feb. 8 presentation by a panel of attorneys hired to review the merits of proceeding with an appeal.
The attorneys recommended that the city should continue vigorous litigation to keep the team named the Anaheim Angels. On Tuesday, the city hired one of those attorneys, Andrew Guilford, a partner with Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, as co-counsel in the case. Guilford is the past president of the California Bar Association.
"We recognize that most pretrial appeals are not successful, but the Anaheim City Council feels that this decision merits further review and the city must pursue every available legal means to obtain the benefits that were promised the people of Anaheim under the contract in 1996," Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle said in a press release.
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