How a rumor becomes a news item: The Angels-to-Irvine story

There’s a fascinating little experiment in journalism echo-chamberism on display in today’s Los Angeles Times, where Bill Shaikin and his editors perform the following bit of quote alchemy:

  • Al Murray, the mayor of Tustin, the small suburb that met with Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno last week to talk about a possible stadium project, told Shaikin on Tuesday night that (in Shaikin’s words) “he had heard that Moreno had talked with the city of Irvine as well.”
  • Representatives of both the Angels and the city of Irvine denied that any talks had taken place, and an Irvine city spokesperson said that its existing redevelopment plan “does not contemplate in any way a sports stadium.”
  • Shaikin led off his story with the tease: “Is it Anaheim or Tustin for the Angels? The mayor of Tustin does not believe that.”
  • The Times editors slapped on the headline “Could Angels put Irvine into play for stadium?” providing an outstanding example of Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.

Could the Angels move to Irvine? Sure, in theory. They could also move to just about anywhere else in the greater L.A. area, or to Hawaii, or to my dining room. (I may need to move some boxes to make room for the necessary luxury suites.) Anyone can throw darts at a map and pretend that what results is a legitimate move threat — and as we’ve seen before, team owners love to do just that when trying to throw a scare into their current hometowns during stadium talks.

The most useful bit of info in Shaikin’s piece is his observation that wherever he goes, “because most California cities no longer pay to build venues for professional sports teams, Moreno’s best bet might be to pay the stadium cost and hope to recoup the investment from surrounding development.” That’s certainly the plan in Anaheim, but the amount of land to be turned over for redevelopment to make it worth Moreno’s while is so vast that Anaheim officials are balking; would this kind of plan make any more economic sense in Tustin, or Irvine, or (where’s my dartboard?) Rancho Cucamonga? That’s outside the scope of Shaikin’s article, sorry — tune in again tomorrow to and maybe you’ll get some real news!


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2 comments on “How a rumor becomes a news item: The Angels-to-Irvine story

  1. Glad to hear shaikin thinks California isn’t doing the stadium subsidy thing anymore… not sure it’s true in “most” cities as he claims, but it’s a hopeful sign.

    I’ve changed my tune on the concept of PSLs over the years… from a fan perspective, I still think they are an egregious abuse of paying customers.

    From a local government’s view, though, they should be mandatory. If any team comes seeking free land, infrastructure money or actual cash for building, the very first order of business should be (other than just saying “no”, which it seems will pretty much never happen…) demanding that the team show it’s customers have both the desire and ability to pay for PSLs. When the team can show that 50% or more of their (legitimate) construction costs can be covered by their customers, maybe we can talk about limited public support for the project. Absent that? Goodbye.

    When will municipalities realize that any employer’s subsidy demand is really just an inducement to pay for the privilege of stealing jobs from another community? Eventually, someone else will be willing to pay more… the only way to win is to refuse to play (as with casinos).

    There is far more job ‘relocation’ created by subsidy than there ever could be job creation.

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