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Moreno introduced as new owner of Angels

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New York, NY (Sports Network) - Arturo Moreno became the first Hispanic controlling owner of a Major League Baseball team Thursday, as he was introduced as the new man in charge of the Anaheim . The 56-year-old Moreno, who made nearly a billion dollars in the billboard industry, takes over the from the Walt Disney Company, which purchased a 25 percent stake in the club in 1996 and acquired the remaining interest in March of 1999, following the death of Gene Autry. Major League Baseball owners met on Wednesday and unanimously approved of Moreno's $182 million purchase of the team. The sale is expected to close next week. Being a Mexican-American owner in a city with an increasing Hispanic population should provide a positive step promotion-wise for the world champion . Twenty-eight percent of major league rosters are composed of players born outside the United States. However, Moreno didn't play up the significance that he is the first Mexican-American to own a major league team. "First thing is I'm American. I'm proud of being Mexican-American, but as far as being the first minority, I think we're all Americans and we try. Most of us are immigrants from some place and we always try to do our best to be Americans," said Moreno, who is a fourth-generation American. Moreno divides his time between homes in Phoenix and Southern California. He used to be a minority investor in the Arizona , but couldn't gain a controlling interest in the team in 2001 and was bought out last year. He also owns part of the NBA's Phoenix Suns. In the mid 1980's Moreno was among a group who owned the former Salt Lake City Trappers, a Class A club that won three championships. "By comparison, this sale went through the ownership committee, the executive council and ownership as fast as anything as I've ever seen in all my years in baseball," said commissioner Bud Selig. "You always wait for someone to object about something. There was no objection at any level about anything. That's a compliment to him and to the whole process." Disney has apparently lost money on the since purchasing the team, but Moreno believes he's made a good investment. "I look at baseball as historically (its) been there for a long time, I think it's going to be here for a long time," said Moreno. "It's a fun thing, a kid's game. I think long-term the balance of entertainment will always lean towards baseball. It's just part of our culture." With Disney's ownership, several of Anaheim's core players have been signed to long-term contracts and now that job of continued success has been turned over to Moreno. "Our primary goal during the time we were privileged to own the was to make sure the team remained as a viable, exciting part of the Anaheim community," said Michael Eisner, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company. "After taking such steps as renaming the team after its home city, the dramatic improvements to Anaheim Stadium and, of course, the incredible achievement of becoming World Series champions, this goal has clearly been achieved." Moreno has been familiar with the since the team plays its spring training home games at Tempe Diablo Stadium. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Moreno and his partner, Williams Levine, built a billboard company called Outdoor Systems and sold the entity to Infinity Broadcast Corporation for $8.7 billion in stock in 1999. Due to a merger, his Infinity stock was converted to stock of Viacom in 2000.

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