Orioles To Decline Five-Year Lease Extension At Camden Yards, Seeking Longer-Term Agreement With Maryland Stadium Authority
The Orioles are missing out on their opportunity to trigger a five-year lease extension at Camden Yards, reports Jeff Barker of the Baltimore Sun. According to Barker, the team is seeking a “more comprehensive, longer-term stadium agreement” with the Maryland Stadium Authority.
The Orioles’ lease at Camden Yards remains in effect until the end of the 2023 calendar year. The team had to decide to tack on five more seasons to stay in its lease until 2028, a condition of a February 2021 extension agreement between the franchise and MSA. Barker writes that the club is optimistic about its chances of reaching a longer agreement, which could include improvements to the ballpark and potential development projects in the surrounding area.
It’s an encouraging indicator for fans in the region who might fear the possibility of losing the franchise. However, these concerns will not be officially allayed until a new deal is finalized. The parties now have 11 months to do so before the current agreement expires. Barker reports that the organization is looking for a 10-15 year deal and hopes to do something by the All-Star Break. A recent law in Maryland would allow the MSA to borrow up to $600 million for Orioles stadium improvements (with an equivalent amount available for the NFL Ravens), but requires a longer-term agreement than the five-year pact that the O’s decided today, Barker Notes.
The parties could still pivot to negotiate another short-term extension similar to the one agreed two years ago. This would seem like a retreat towards their desired goal of a much longer engagement, which will remain a key story for the franchise over the coming months.
After the news broke, the club issued a press release with quotes from Maryland Governor Wes Moore and O Chairman and CEO John Angelos. “When Camden Yards first opened its doors thirty years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore said in the statement. “We share the Orioles organization’s commitment to ensuring the team plays at a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and we are excited to advance our public-private partnership. We look forward to writing the next chapter of Major League Baseball in Maryland as we continue to make magic for fans and make meaningful investments in communities across our state.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority to bring Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination that the state of Maryland deserves,” Angelos said in the same press release. “We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the incredible opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue is and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. I hope and expect that together with Governor Moore, the new members and the new Chairman of the MSA Board of Directors, we can once again realize the full potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for the second renaissance of Baltimore.
The lease uncertainty comes at a time when the ownership situation of the franchise is the subject of controversy. O’s longtime owner Peter Angelos is now 93, and his sons Louis and John are embroiled in a legal battle. Louis Angelos sued his brother and mother Georgia Angelos, alleging that John Angelos blocked his mother’s wish to sell the franchise and that John and Georgia took control of Peter Angelos’ assets in the Orioles and his law firm. lawyers at Louis’ expense. Louis also hinted that John Angelos could possibly try to move the franchise to Tennessee, which John Angelos strongly denied.
John Angelos was part of a promotional event with Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to announce a scholarship for local schools. Angelos, however, declined to answer a question from The Athletic’s Dan Connolly about the franchise’s ownership situation, bizarrely calling it “an (inappropriate) topic for the day” (video link provided by CBS’ Paul Gessler Baltimore). He however reiterated that “we are not going anywhere”. Angelos expressed openness to showing Connolly and other reporters the organization’s finances and details of the ownership structure at another time. There is no indication that a process has been put in place.