Orioles decline five-year lease extension at Camden Yards
The Orioles are passing on their opportunity to trigger a five-year extension of their lease at Camden Yards, reports Jeff Barker of the Baltimore Sun. According to Barker, the team is in search of “a longer-term, more comprehensive stadium agreement” with the Maryland Stadium Authority.
The Orioles’ lease at Camden Yards remains in effect through the end of the 2023 calendar year. The team faced a decision on whether to tack on additional five seasons to remain in their lease through 2028, a condition of a February 2021 extension agreement between the franchise and the MSA. Barker writes the club is optimistic about its chances of hammering out a longer deal, one that might include upgrades to the ballpark and potential development projects in the surrounding area.
That’s a hopeful indicator for fans in the area who might be apprehensive about the possibility of losing the franchise. Those worries won’t be officially quelled unless and until a new agreement is finalized, however. The sides now have 11 months to do so before the current agreement expires. Barker reports the organization is seeking a deal of 10-15 years in length and is hopeful to get something done by the All-Star Break. A recent Maryland law would allow the MSA to borrow up to $600M for Orioles’ stadium upgrades (with a matching amount available for the NFL’s Ravens) but requires a longer-term deal than the five-year pact the O’s were deciding upon on Wednesday, Barker notes.
The sides could still pivot to negotiate another short-term extension akin to the one agreed upon two years ago. That’d appear to be a fallback to their desired goal of a significantly longer commitment, one that’ll remain a key story for the franchise over the coming months.
After this news broke, the club issued a press release with quotes from Maryland Gov. Wes Moore as well as O’s Chairman and CEO John Angelos.
“When Camden Yards opened thirty years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore says in the statement. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and 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 meaningful investment for communities across our state.”
“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the State of Maryland deserves,” Angelos says in the same press release. “We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA Board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”
The lease uncertainty comes at a time when the franchise’s ownership situation is the subject of controversy. Longtime O’s owner Peter Angelos is now 93 years old, and his sons Louis and John are embroiled in a legal battle. Louis Angelos has sued his brother and mother Georgia Angelos, alleging that John Angelos has blocked his mother’s wishes to sell the franchise and that John and Georgia have seized control of Peter Angelos’ assets in the Orioles and his law firm at Louis’ expense. Louis also implied that John Angelos could eventually attempt to move the franchise to Tennessee, something John Angelos has strongly denied.
John Angelos was part of a promotional event with Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to announce the creation of a scholarship for local schools. Angelos, however, refused to entertain a question from Dan Connolly of The Athletic about the franchise’s ownership situation, bizarrely calling it “(an inappropriate) subject matter for this day” (video link provided by Paul Gessler of CBS Baltimore). He did reiterate, however, that “we’re not going anywhere.” Angelos expressed openness to showing Connolly and other reporters the organization’s financials and specifics of the ownership structure at another point. There’s no indication that process has been set up.