Moore says Orioles talks can produce a plan to redevelop Camden Yards area, as well as a stadium lease

Gov. Wes Moore said Wednesday that negotiations with the Orioles can produce not only a new stadium lease binding the team to Baltimore for years, but a redevelopment road map benefiting the city and state.

The governor also predicted the club he adores will host World Series games this fall.

“For longtime Orioles fans, this is such a gratifying year, because I really do believe — and it’s not just because I’m the governor — I really do believe we’re going to have World Series baseball in Baltimore,” the Democrat said after attending a Mass in Montgomery County tied to the upcoming observance of Labor Day.

The Orioles’ lease expires at the end of the year. John Angelos, the club’s chairman and CEO, has said he wants the lease to reflect his vision, which Moore supports, that the area surrounding the Baltimore stadiums’ complex be redeveloped as part of a public-private partnership. A major goal is to attract visitors to the district even on nongame days.

Some officials, including state Senate President Bill Ferguson, recently have expressed impatience that no lease deal has been completed.

Ferguson, a Democrat who represents Camden Yards and the surrounding area, told reporters earlier this month that he agrees that revitalizing Baltimore’s downtown core “is an absolutely essential priority.”

But Ferguson said the lease should be signed first because it would be premature to plan such investments “when we don’t have a partner that is committing to be there for the next 20 to 30 years.”

Asked Wednesday evening about Ferguson’s remarks, Moore said: “We need to get all of it done.

“My lens on how I view this — and I’ve been very consistent on it — is I want to make sure that we have Orioles baseball in Baltimore for generations to come,” Moore said. “I want to make sure that we’re being smart and real stewards of taxpayer dollars. And I want to make sure that this is not just going to produce winners on the field, but that it produces winners off the field.”

David Schuhlein, a spokesman for Ferguson, declined Wednesday night to comment.

With just over three months before the Orioles lease with the Maryland Stadium Authority expires, some fans have worried about losing the team to another city, as Baltimore did when the NFL Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984.

Moore said he felt “very good” about getting a deal done that would include a big-picture redevelopment.

“Everything that we’re talking about it, it’s consistent and it’s coordinated,” the governor said. “So I feel very good about our prospects of being able to not just get the lease done, but also making sure that getting the lease done includes all the other lenses that I think are going to be important in this long-term deal.”

Like Ferguson, State Comptroller Brooke Lierman, a Democrat and former delegate whose district encompassed Oriole Park at Camden Yards, said Wednesday morning in an interview on WBAL-AM that the lease and the surrounding development should be dealt with separately.

“There’s going to be a lot of development and exciting things happening over the next few years in Baltimore” and the stadium area will be part of the discussion, she said.

“But we can’t discuss it with somebody who isn’t in it for the long term with us yet, right?” Lierman said. “So, that has to be a separate conversation.”

Angelos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moore and Angelos have had a close working relationship. Moore featured Angelos in his 2020 book about the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in city police custody, while Angelos donated the maximum of $6,000 to Moore’s campaign last summer.

At the Orioles’ home opener this year, Moore threw the ceremonial first pitch. He returned to the ballpark during a New York Yankees’ series in late July to man the hose that sprays fans in the “Splash Zone.”

Moore said of the Orioles on Wednesday: “I love this team. I love who they are as human beings. I love their commitment not just to Orioles baseball, but their commitment to Baltimore.”

He said the club contains “just a really good group of guys, and this is a team that was built the right way. We’re not like other teams in Major League Baseball. We go out and we have a remarkable farm system that is producing top-quality talent.”

The Orioles have the best record in the American League and are in first place in their division.

This is the 40th season since the 1983 team reached baseball’s pinnacle, winning the World Series. In the years since, the Orioles have been one of Major League Baseball’s worst franchises — only 13 winning seasons, five trips to the postseason and zero World Series appearances. The 39-year championship lull is the seventh-longest active drought in the sport.

Angelos laid out his vision for Baltimore in a memorandum last year to the team’s front-office staff. He said he hoped to help the city achieve a second “renaissance.” The first renaissance, he wrote, came with the 1980 opening of Harborplace, the Inner Harbor development, and the 1992 opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Angelos has said he would like the stadium area to be an entertainment hub, even on days when the Orioles aren’t playing.

In a Jan. 31 letter to Moore, obtained by The Baltimore Sun, Angelos told the governor he temporarily halted lease negotiations following the November election until Moore took office. For a period of 10 weeks, according to the letter, negotiations weren’t occurring.

Officials in the administration of outgoing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan had hoped to complete a deal with the club before his term ended in January.

But Angelos wrote that after the election, he “made the decision to pause our ongoing discussions with the Maryland Stadium Authority out of deference to your incoming Administration and my belief that you should have input into the finalized vision for Camden Yards.”


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