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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Low-Budget Orioles Sit Atop Standings Without Long-Term Stadium Plan

  • Club's player development plan serves as counterpoint to high-spending, disappointing Mets
  • Local politicians grow increasingly frustrated with lack of completed lease extension
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Life for the Baltimore Orioles is as good as it’s been in nearly a decade. The upstart team’s long-term future, however, remains a source of rising local frustration.

Despite fielding MLB’s third-smallest payroll at just $70.8 million, the Orioles have the American League’s top record, the product of a multiyear roster development plan that has served as a counterpoint to the high-spending but highly disappointing New York Mets.

The city of Baltimore, unsurprisingly, has responded to the Orioles’ surge. A recent weekend series against the New York Yankees drew 114,816, the team’s best three-game draw since 2016 and part of a 29% overall boost at the gate this season — the fifth-best percentage growth in MLB.

This week’s Orioles job fair for various Camden Yards-related positions also drew more than 550 applicants for 160 positions, nearly doubling the normal peak turnout for such events.

But to the increasing vexation of state and city political leaders, the John Angelos-led team still hasn’t completed a long-discussed lease extension for the publicly owned Camden Yards to succeed the current term, which expires this year. The talks have included a broad plan to “expand and revitalize the Camden Yards campus.”

A completed deal would also allow the Orioles to access $600 million in public funds for the development, similar to provisions available to the neighboring Baltimore Ravens.

“I remain perplexed why a lease hasn’t been executed already,” said Maryland Stadium Authority board member William Cole, echoing similar comments last month by state treasurer Dereck Davis, who said, “It’s time to start putting timelines out there so we can get this damn thing done.”

Asked about the issue on Wednesday, Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott referenced Jay-Z: “I have 99 problems — and the Orioles are not one of them.”

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