World

Orioles reach 30-year lease agreement to keep team at Camden Yards per in-game announcement

[ad_1]

The Orioles are here to stay.

During Thursday’s game at Camden Yards against the Boston Red Sox when Baltimore’s ballclub has the chance to clinch the American League East, the club made an announcement that means the venue could host celebrations for years to come.

After the third inning, the Orioles put on the video board at Oriole Park that the team and Maryland Stadium Authority have agreed to a new 30-year lease to keep the team in Baltimore. The deal was set to expire Dec. 31.

“Earlier today, the Orioles, Governor Wes Moore and the State of Maryland, and the Maryland Stadium Authority agreed to a deal that will keep the Orioles in Baltimore and at Camden Yards for at least the next 30 years!!” the announcement read, with the Democratic governor and Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos were shown together on the video board above.

An Orioles spokesperson confirmed the scoreboard announcement, saying more details would be released Friday.

After the announcement, a jubilant Moore was seen in the Camden Yards concourse hugging people and repeating that the lease was for 30 years.

His office scheduled a video meeting for Friday morning to brief reporters on the deal.

The Orioles played their inaugural season at Oriole Park in 1992, the first in a 30-year agreement that originally ran through 2021. The Orioles and the stadium authority agreed to a two-year extension in February of that year, hoping to use that added time to negotiate a long-term deal.

Angelos, the son of Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos, told Baltimore business leaders in September 2019 that the Orioles would play in Charm City “as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor,” reiterating that point over the years to come.

Little more than a year after Angelos’ initial declaration — and days after The Baltimore Sun reported potential bidders were lining up to buy the team if the Angelos family chose to sell it — Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias penned a letter to fans reiterated the organization’s dedication to the community “for decades to come.”

“Please rest assured that there is nothing uncertain about the future of your Orioles in Baltimore,” Elias wrote.

The agreement requires the approval of the Maryland Stadium Authority board as well as the Board of Public Works. The General Assembly would need to approve any new expenditures.

The Maryland Stadium Authority board had not received details of the agreement as of Thursday night, according to two people familiar with the board’s operations who requested anonymity because the deal is pending.

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, though it’s not certain the lease would be on the agenda.

Under Moore, the governor’s office had played a significant role in the lease negotiations, more so than when then-Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, was in office. Angelos and the governor have had a close working relationship.

As part of seeking a lease agreement, Angelos sought commercial development rights to state-owned parking lots B and C that sit on valuable land between Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium. The development proposal was part of his idea to create a surrounding “live-work-play” area.

One of the sources familiar with the negotiations said in August that Angelos’ idea for the parking lots came up earlier in the talks, but was no longer on the table.

An official familiar with the agreement confirmed Thursday night that Angelos did not receive development rights to Lots B and C. The Ravens use the lots on game days for parking and other activities.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott released a statement after the announcement.

“The Baltimore Orioles are an institution and an irreplaceable member of the collective family that makes up Charm City,” he statement said. “I am extremely pleased that under this agreement, they will continue to call Oriole Park at Camden Yards — the ballpark that forever changed baseball — home for another generation.”

Former Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Tom Kelso said in an interview: “I congratulate the team, and the governor and the stadium authority and I look forward to learning more about the details.” Kelso had been negotiating with Angelos until he was not reappointed by the governor and left in March. Angelos revealed in a January letter to Moore that he stopped negotiating with the previous administration once Moore was elected in November.

Angelos said in a Sept. 1, 2022, memorandum to Orioles front-office staff that the lease would be part of a broader “memorandum of understanding” underscoring the team’s “special relationship with the State of Maryland and the Greater Baltimore area.”

“As a lifelong Baltimorean, I very much look forward to signing on behalf of the Club,” Angelos said in the memo.

With the long-term deal, the Orioles will gain access to $600 million in public funds to upgrade the 31-year-old venue.

The NFL’s Ravens reached a new 15-year lease agreement with the stadium authority in January, despite having five years remaining on their previous one. Afterward, the Ravens started to plan upgrades to M&T Bank Stadium. A clause in the lease requires they and the Orioles receive similar terms and are treated fairly by the state.

The Orioles and the stadium authority have said it would be premature to specify what renovations they’re considering at Camden Yards, which seats about 46,000. Many newer stadiums are smaller and include open concourses with field views and stadium clubs for VIPs that offer prime low-level views.

Potential changes could include more social spaces, fewer seats and a sports betting area.

Stadium authority chairman Craig Thompson, who was at the game, declined to comment until Friday’s briefing with the media.

State Senate President Bill Ferguson also had no comment until details of the agreement were released.

The details have not been announced, though both Angelos and Moore have expressed interest in the deal addressing more than keeping the Orioles at the ballpark.

Earlier this year, they visited The Battery outside of Truist Park, hoping to enliven the area around Camden Yards in a similar manner. During stages of negotiations, Angelos has requested development rights for the parking lots between Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Ravens, sources familiar with negotiations told The Sun.

Angelos said in February he hoped a new lease would be an “All-Star break gift,” but the mid-July cutoff passed without an agreement. He and Moore issued a joint statement in which they said progress was being made on their “vision to expand and revitalize the Camden Yards campus.”

“We are determined to make it happen, and soon,” the statement read.

A long-awaited deal at last came together more than two months later. Moments after a replay review brought Thursday’s third inning to an end, the announcement appeared on the video board, eliciting cheers from the announced crowd of 27,543.

The lease has been a source of anxiety for many fans amid a sensational season for the team on the field. In February, the Orioles had the option to extend the lease by five years but declined, leaving it to expire at the end of the year.

“I probably would have moved out of Baltimore if they left the city,” Catie Kimball, a Canton resident, said at Thursday’s game.

Gathering with friends close to the statue of franchise icon Brooks Robinson, who died Tuesday, at Camden Yards, Orioles fan Glen Hessinger said he was “happy that we’ll be able to come here for the next 30 years,” but wondered what the terms of the lease were. “We don’t know the details. We don’t know what we’re giving up.”

Along with access to the parking lots, Angelos’ asks during negotiations, according to sources, included the Orioles not having to pay rent to the MSA while also receiving an additional $300 million on top of the promised $600 million.

Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Belson contributed to this article.

This article may be updated.

()

[ad_2]

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button