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The Orioles, on the Brink of Franchise Stability, Descend Back Into Chaos

  • MLB club, state agency are still negotiating lease terms as deadline approaches.
  • Ownership uncertainty further clouds the situation surrounding franchise.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles’ deal with the Maryland Stadium Authority on a 30-year lease extension for Oriole Park at Camden Yards was designed to provide stability to a franchise surrounded for years by relocation rumors, ownership questions, and revenue concerns. Instead, the ongoing uncertainty surrounding those lease talks and the club’s future leadership has amplified the chaos. 

The MLB club and the state agency are hurtling toward a Dec. 31 deadline to turn a September memorandum of understanding into a finalized deal. The past weeks, however, have only reexposed the core debate that led to several years of negotiations.

In a move to meet that year-end deadline, the MSA began a push late last month to separate the lease for the publicly owned ballpark from a broader redevelopment plan for the Camden Yards area. The Orioles objected, preferring one larger deal, though it appeared last week there was agreement on a final pact in accordance with the prior MOU. 

But pushback from Bill Ferguson, the president of Maryland’s state senate, helped derail a planned announcement last week from Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, sending negotiators back to the table. 

“Fundamentally, I believe that the long-term lease for use of the ballpark should not be conditioned on whether or not a private owner receives a 99-year ground lease to develop land owned by Maryland taxpayers,” Ferguson said.

Ownership Questions

The lease debate has also been joined by new questions as to who will own the Orioles during the next lease term. 

A recent Bloomberg report indicated that the family of current majority owner Peter Angelos had entered sale discussions with businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein. The Baltimore Banner reported that team chair and CEO John Angelos has since denied that story privately to Moore, but there has not been any public statement on the matter.

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