Arte Moreno is open to putting the Angels up for sale… which presents a fascinating opportunity for LA’s biggest active sports star to level up his legacy.
The Los Angeles Angels have been woefully mismanaged for many years now.
It takes skill to waste the prime of Mike Trout, one of the greatest baseball players to ever live, yet the Millville Meteor has made the playoffs just once in his career. It takes skill to sign Shohei Ohtani, MLB‘s best two-way player and perhaps most impressive pure talent ever, then reportedly alienate him to a point where it’s rumored he’ll likely leave the team as a free agent after the 2023 season. Now, there’s talk of the Angels trying to trade him so they don’t lose him for nothing.
The management of this team has been impressively disappointing for more than a decade, and that rests at the feet of majority stakeholder Arte Moreno, who bought the team in 2003 from the Walt Disney Company for $180 million. The Angels made the playoffs in five of his first seven season in charge, but have done so just once since 2009. In March, Forbes valued the franchise at $2.2 billion, essentially earning Moreno $200 million per year.
Last week, Moreno announced his intentions to sell the team, giving a potential breath of fresh air for a fan base in dire need of a respite from an ownership group that’s squandered so much opportunity. And there so happens to be a recently minted billionaire who intends to have roots in the Los Angeles area for the rest of his life. He has the money, resources, and clout necessary to make the Angels one of baseball’s marquee franchises and to become the sport’s first Black majority owner.
Enter LeBron James.
He has the money, gravitas, and cachet to immediately become baseball’s most popular owner, inheriting a team with absurdly untapped and under-utilized megawatt star power. He’d also have the chance to be a global ambassador to the sport and immediately popularize baseball while trying to improve participation in minority communities around the world.
To do so, James would likely have to sell his stake in the massively successful production and entertainment group, The Spring Hill Company, which he co-founded. He already sold a significant stake last October at a $725 million valuation. He would also have to sell his small stake, estimated by Forbes at 1%, in Fenway Sports Group because it includes the Boston Red Sox, as well as stakes in Liverpool FC, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Roush Fenway Racing, and NESN.
LeBron said he’s always dreamed of owning an NBA team, with a longstanding rumor that he’d like to be the majority stakeholder if and when the league expands to Las Vegas. For James, that’d be a minimum two years down the line given that he signed a $97 million extension with the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month. What better way to prove he can handle that responsibility than buying not just an MLB team, but one near his residence with entrenched star power that he can immediately bring back to prominence with some competent management?
And there are few better investments than a major league sports franchise. Just ask Moreno, who will likely see a $2 billion-plus profit after two decades of ownership. The Angels’ 2022 valuation is up 9% from last year, or a $180 million increase. If you’re LeBron, you can see your investment grow in value by hundreds of millions over the next few years, providing him more funds to purchase an NBA franchise when the time is right.
Does baseball need LeBron more than LeBron needs baseball? Of course.
But a road map to NBA ownership, guaranteed wealth accumulation, and the chance to further entrench himself in the Los Angeles area and become one of the most prominent and important baseball owners ever makes the Angels a venture that King James should seriously consider.