A public opinion poll making the rounds among Marylanders this week is gauging how people feel about a plan to revitalize Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium and the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Camden Crossing,” according to the poll, could complement public-funded upgrades at the two sports parks with additional investment from the Baltimore Orioles into a “public-private partnership.” That investment would aim to create new economic opportunities in the area with housing, hotels, shops, office space and health and education services, the poll says. It asks respondents how familiar they were with the revitalization plan.
Where exactly would Camden Crossing — also the name of a group of townhomes located to the west of the stadium — be located? The poll doesn’t say, and Orioles CEO and managing partner John Angelos declined a request to comment Tuesday about the poll. But a source familiar with the proposal, who asked not to be identified by name because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the potential redevelopment, said the project would likely encompass the existing Camden Yards campus and dozens of acres around the stadium and adjacent to it.
Word of Camden Crossing may come as a surprise to Baltimore baseball fans and industry professionals anxiously awaiting state government officials and Angelos to sign a new long-term deal with the Maryland Stadium Authority to stay in Camden Yards.
The team’s lease will expire at the end of the year, and talks seems to have reached an impasse that has frustrated state leaders.
Last month, state Treasurer Dereck Davis said at a state spending board meeting that there was “too much foot-dragging” on the lease discussions, that taxpayers were being kept in the dark and that it was “time to get this damn thing done.”
And last week, William Cole, a member of the Maryland Stadium Authority board said he was “perplexed” why a deal hadn’t been reached when the state approved $600 million for stadium renovations.
It is unclear if the Camden Crossing proposal has anything to do with the lease delay. It is also unclear how concrete the plans for Camden Crossing are.
A spokesperson from Gov. Wes Moore’s office declined to answer questions about Camden Crossing or whether Moore and Angelos had spoken about the idea.
Moore and Angelos traveled to Atlanta earlier this year — the governor’s first out-of-state trip — to signal the state’s emphasis on keeping the Orioles playing in Baltimore. The two spent time touring the The Battery Atlanta, a mixed-use destination that features a concert venue, shops and restaurants surrounding the stadium. Both expressed optimism of Baltimore’s potential to recreate a similar pre-and-post game experience for fans and visitors.
A similar such venture already is being planned in South Baltimore. Called the Warner Street Entertainment District, the four-block stretch — already home to a Topgolf driving range — is lodged between M&T Bank Stadium and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. City development officials said they hope it can spur more spending at the casino as well as deliver a boost to local tourism and add density downtown.
Officials from the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and the Maryland Stadium Authority declined to comment on the matter.
Colin Tarbert, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corp., said he was not aware of the plans or involved in discussions about the Orioles lease.
Alexandra Hughes — a spokesperson for P. David Bramble, managing partner of MCB Real Estate, which is the firm handling the ongoing redevelopment of Harborplace — said while the success of that project hinges on being easily connected with the stadium district, Bramble “has no pending proposals or deals with the Orioles or the Maryland Stadium Authority.”
Moore, speaking at a Ravens news event Monday, said he remains encouraged about finalizing the lease and cementing baseball’s future in Baltimore “for generations to come.”
“And it’s gonna be with the same type of focus on how we’re thinking about our work with the Ravens, where we’re thinking about creating a winner on the field and then also making sure we’re making winners outside as well,” he said. “I’m committed to making sure that this is a win for Baltimore, and that this is a win for the state of Maryland,” he added later.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, meanwhile, said while Camden Yards may still be “the best place in the country to catch a game,” it hasn’t caught up to more modern development standards. He said “a number of options” for the stadium’s revitalization are being discussed.
“Our world-class stadiums already serve as important pillars for our city, and, as we continue to pursue new downtown and harbor development, they will absolutely maintain their central role in the revitalization of Baltimore’s downtown,” he said.
The lease would not only firm up the team’s future in Baltimore but also allow Orioles management to tap up to $600 million in bonds from the Maryland Stadium Authority for renovation projects. Maryland state officials approved a new lease for the Baltimore Ravens earlier this year that will keep the football team playing at the state-owned M&T Bank Stadium for the next 15 to 25 years.
Baltimore Banner columnist Kyle Goon contributed to this article.