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Hispanic Heritage

Arturo Moreno

Also known as: Arte Moreno, Arturo R. Moreno
Birth: August, 1946 in Tucson, Arizona
Occupation: Owner of the Anaheim Angels

In 2003, Arturo "Arte" Moreno made sports history when he bought the Anaheim Angels, and became major league baseball's first-ever minority team owner. Ranked no. 244 on Forbes magazine's rankings of the richest 400 people in the world thanks to the outdoor-advertising empire he created, Moreno saw his new job as just another chief executive officer's post, he told USA Today writer Greg Boeck in a rare interview. "The fans own the team," he asserted. "I'm the economic caretaker."

Born in 1946, Moreno is a fourth-generation Mexican-American with roots in Tucson, Arizona. His grandfather founded a printing company there, and his father was the publisher of the city's Spanish-language newspaper, El Tucsonense. But Moreno grew up in circumstances that were anything but comfortable: he was the first of eleven children in a family that lived in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home. After high school, he worked in the family's print shop, and took classes at the local community college. Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966, he served two years, including a stint in Vietnam. While there, he later noted, he decided to set down some goals for his future. One was to finish college, and the other to become a millionaire by the time he turned 40.

Back in civilian clothes, Moreno enrolled at the University of Arizona, and earned his marketing degree in 1973. He landed a sales job with a local billboard company that was later bought by Gannett, an outdoor-advertising powerhouse, and advanced up the corporate ladder. His millionaire goal still in mind, Moreno had an epiphany at one point. "I was generating x amount of profit," he told Fortune writer David Whitford, "and I knew that if I could have a small company generating even just a percentage of that profit I could reach my goals much faster. Like I once told somebody, I became very dangerous when I learned how to add."

In 1984, Moreno entered into a partnership deal with an 80-billboard business in Phoenix called Outdoor Systems. As chief executive officer, he took the company on a strategic expansion plan that involved acquiring larger and larger competitors. Revenues went from $500,000 to $90 million over the next dozen years, and Outdoor Systems became a publicly traded company in 1996. Three years later, he and his original partner sold the business to Infinity Broadcast Co. for more than $8 billion.

Buying the Anaheim Angels was not Moreno's first venture into baseball: a lifelong fan of the game, he served as a coach for youth teams in Phoenix, including his son's, for a decade, and in the late 1980s and early '90s was one of several owners of a Class A team, the Salt Lake City Trappers. He was also an original investor in the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. In the spring of 2003, he emerged as one of three contenders to become the newest owner of the Angels. Multimedia giant Disney had owned it in full since 1999, and the team even won the World Series in 2002, but it remained a money-losing franchise in the Disney portfolio. Moreno's bid package won out, and he put $182.5 million on the table in a cash deal. It made him the first person of color to own a Major League Baseball team, ever. But Moreno avoided dwelling on his historic achievement as baseball's first Hispanic team owner. "I'm proud of being a Mexican American," New York Times journalist Murray Chass quoted him as saying at the news conference to announce the deal, but stressed that "we're all Americans. Most of us are immigrants from someplace, and I think we always try to do our best being an American."

Moreno 's first official act as team owner was to lower the price of beer at the Anaheim home field, from $8 to $6.75. He also slashed ticket prices to as low as $3 and $5 for some seats on certain nights, halved the price of souvenir "A" baseballs, and initiated a family friendly package deal for tickets and food. The end result was that the team took in $2.5 million more in revenue for 2003 from concession sales than it had the previous--and championship--year, and souvenir-sales revenues came to $1.25 million as well.

Yet the world-championship Angels fared poorly on the field that first year of Moreno's stewardship, finishing near the bottom of the American League West standings. Their new boss, however, began spending heavily on adding fresh talent to the team roster. He signed four new players, all of them Hispanic: pitcher Bartolo Colon, who accepted a four-year, $51 million deal; outfielder Vladimir Guerrero for $70 million for five years; and Kelvim Escobar and Jose Guillen. Moreno was also committed to increasing diversity within every facet of organization, and made the stadium more bilingual-friendly in its signs and personnel. Hoping to lure more Latino fans in a sport where an overwhelming number of players are of Hispanic heritage, Moreno has not had to look very far: nearby the Angels Stadium is the city of Santa Ana, which has proportionately more Spanish speakers than any other city in the United States.

Thanks to the new blood, the Angels did better in 2004, finishing with a 92-70 record and even making it into the playoffs, where they were ousted by eventual World Series pennant winners the Boston Red Sox. This feat, and his family friendly policies, has made Moreno a popular figure at Angels Stadium, where youngsters ask him for autographs. His home, however, remains back in Phoenix, where he lives with his wife, Carole, and their two teenage children. He has a son from a previous marriage, and also keeps a home in the California oceanside town of La Jolla, near San Diego. He has a net worth of $1 billion, and made sure to give out raises in the front office, too, when he increased his team's payroll past the $100-million mark. "It all comes down to people," he told Boston Herald journalist Howard Bryant. "This is an outstanding organization with outstanding people, and I can only say that I'm fortunate to be a part of it."

Personal Information

Born in August of 1946, in Tucson, AZ; son of Art and Mary Moreno; married (divorced); married Carole; children: Bryan (from first marriage), Rico, Nikki (from second marriage). Military: U.S. Army, 1966-68. Education: University of Arizona, B.S. (marketing), 1973. Addresses: Office--Angels Baseball, 2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806.

Career

Salesperson for a billboard company, 1973-84; became principal and chief executive officer of Outdoor Systems, Phoenix, AZ, 1984; owned share of the Salt Lake City Trappers, a Class A baseball team, 1985-92; original investor in the Arizona Diamondbacks, 1998; bought Anaheim Angels, 2003.

Further Reading

  • Arizona Daily Star, April 17, 2003, p. A1.
  • Boston Herald, October 5, 2004, p. 91.
  • BusinessWeek, June 2, 2003, p. 85.
  • Fortune, October 13, 2003, p. 181.
  • Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, May 24, 2003; March 1, 2004.
  • New York Times, May 16, 2003, p. D3; October 10, 2004, p. SP2.
  • USA Today, February 24, 2004.

SOURCE CITATION

Newsmakers, Issue 2. Gale, 2005.
Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale. 2007.

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