The Baltimore Orioles have finally completed a formal lease extension with Maryland officials, ending years of uncertainty surrounding the club. But even now, there’s still a big catch.
Facing a Dec. 31 expiration of the team’s existing lease to the publicly owned Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the team completed a 30-year pact with the Maryland Stadium Authority and Maryland Board of Public Works on Monday, confirming what had been first announced in September. The deal follows several years of back-and-forth talks, keeps the team at the downtown ballpark and, for now, eliminates what had been several years of steady but unconfirmed rumors of a potential franchise relocation and recent weeks of renewed negotiating chaos.
“Under this deal, we will keep the Orioles in Baltimore for the long-term with a no-relocation clause under any scenario,” said Maryland Gov. Wes Moore.
That boast, however, is definitively true only for a limited time. The Orioles have an option to reduce the deal to a 15-year term if they are not successful in securing necessary government approvals for a separate ground lease and development plan for the adjacent B&O Warehouse and surrounding Camden Yards area by the end of 2027.
Several state legislators previously sought to separate the redevelopment pact from the core stadium lease, and they achieved a partial win there. The team option, however, could soon reignite many of the same concerns as in recent years if the redevelopment fails to materialize.
But that was not front and center in the team’s immediate comments. The pact also allows the Orioles and MSA to tap into $600 million in state bonds for upgrades to Camden Yards, a provision also being utilized by the neighboring Baltimore Ravens, at M&T Bank Stadium.
“There is nowhere the Orioles would rather play championship baseball than here at Camden Yards,” Greg Bader, the team’s chief operating officer, told the state Board of Public Works.
All the agreed-upon lease terms will carry over to a new owner if Peter Angelos and his family sell the Orioles. The lease agreement closely follows a local media rights agreement between the Orioles, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and Washington Nationals for the 2017-21 seasons.