Maryland Gov. Wes Moore expressed confidence Wednesday that the state will strike a long-term lease to keep the Orioles at Camden Yards.
“I feel very good about our prospects of being able to not just get the lease done, but also making sure that getting the lease done includes all the other lenses that I think are going to be as important as the lease,” Moore, a Democrat, told reporters following an event in Silver Spring.
Those lenses, the governor explained, include being fiscally responsible and ensuring benefits for the broader Baltimore community.
“I want to make sure that we’re being smart and real stewards of taxpayer dollars, and making sure that this is done in a fiscally responsible way,” Moore said. “And I want to make sure that this is going to not just produce a winner on the field, but it produces winners off the field — that it’s Baltimore and it’s Maryland that are going to benefit from the deal that’s being done.”
Moore’s remarks to reporters came one day after members of his administration involved in the negotiations also expressed confidence. Those officials, who spoke anonymously in order to be candid, said a short-term extension is not likely and that they intend to strike a deal to keep the Orioles in Baltimore for “decades to come.”
Neither the administration officials nor Moore himself have discussed details of what might be in the lease. The current arrangement for the Orioles to play in the state-owned Oriole Park at Camden Yards expires Dec. 31.
Moore spoke broadly of needing to both sign a lease for the use of the stadium itself and come up with a way to boost development and economic activity in downtown Baltimore.
Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos previously requested the exclusive right to develop acres of state-owned land around the stadium, including parking lots, but that proposal was rejected, Moore administration officials had said. Angelos also sought $300 million in aid from the state — above and beyond $600 million worth of state-financed bonds for upgrades already authorized — which also was rejected.
In order to unlock the $600 million in bonds to modernize the ballpark, the Orioles would be required to sign a long-term deal, one that keeps the team there as long as the bonds are being paid off. The Baltimore Ravens, who were offered the same $600 million in bonds, signed a 15-to-25-year lease in January.
Moore predicted that in addition to landing a lease with the Orioles, that the team will be playing playoff baseball this fall.
“This is such a gratifying year, because I really do believe — and it’s not just because I’m the governor ― I really do believe we’re going to have World Series baseball in Baltimore this year,” he said.
Moore has attended several games this year, including serving as “Gov. Splash” during a nationally televised game, spraying a hose on fans in the “Bird Bath” section of left field following extra-base hits.
“I love this team,” Moore said. “Like, I love who they are as human beings. I love their commitment to not just Orioles baseball, but the commitment to Baltimore. You know, this is just a really good group of guys.”