Maryland’s state treasurer is pressing for answers about why it’s taking so long for the state government and the Baltimore Orioles to nail down a new lease for Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Treasurer Dereck Davis, who ultimately will be one of three votes on a future lease, expressed frustration at a public meeting in Annapolis on Wednesday.
“One thing that is concerning to me, and that’s what’s going on — or lack thereof — between the stadium authority and the Baltimore Orioles,” Davis said at a meeting of the state Board of Public Works. “There has been a lot of conversation going on. We’re not talking about building a new stadium or anything like that. There’s something going on.”
He added: “There’s too much foot-dragging on this.”
The Baltimore Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority, which oversees the state-owned stadium, have been in talks for a new lease for months. The Orioles passed on an extension option earlier this year and the current lease is set to expire on Dec. 31.
Neither side has said much publicly about the possible terms of the lease, or how the Orioles might use up to $600 million in state-financed money for improvements that would be available if a new lease is signed.
Last week, the Orioles and Gov. Wes Moore issued a joint statement saying that progress is being made on an agreement to keep the baseball team in Baltimore for the long term.
That statement came at the end of Major League Baseball’s All-Star break, which was Orioles Chairman John Angelos’ self-imposed goal of reaching a lease agreement. Angelos had said he wanted to get the deal done by then as a “gift for everybody, really, in the community.”
There have been few updates about the lease talks, as Orioles fans await word of the team’s long-term future.
Davis chose a public meeting attended by high-profile officials to express his frustration with the lack of information. He said he hoped that journalists would report on his statements to bring attention to the situation. He’s hoping for timelines to be established to “get this damn thing done.”
“They owe it to the state and the taxpayers,” he said.
Sitting beside Davis were the two other members of the Board of Public Works: the governor and Comptroller Brooke Lierman. All three are Democrats.
“I’m not saying it’s anybody’s fault, because I honestly don’t know,” Davis said. “But it’s time. It’s time and folks need to be called out on it. ... I want to put pressure on the stadium authority, on the Baltimore Orioles.”
As Davis concluded his remarks, Lierman offered a “Hear! Hear!” but did not comment further. Moore chuckled but made no remarks.
Later in the day, Moore spokesperson Brittany Marshall issued a statement saying that the governor is committed to finalizing a lease agreement “as quickly as possible.”
“Treasurer Davis is a valued partner on the Board of Public Works. He and the governor have a shared goal of advancing an agreement with the Orioles that will benefit Baltimore and the entire state,” the statement said.
She added that the governor “stands by his previous statement that progress is being made” toward an agreement that will enhance Camden Yards and the surrounding area.
The Orioles did not offer an immediate response to Davis’ remarks. Craig A. Thompson, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, declined to comment and referred to last week’s joint statement with the governor and the Orioles.
Davis has questioned the Maryland Stadium Authority’s decisions multiple times since being selected state treasurer in late 2021.
In one of his earliest Board of Public Works meetings, Davis voted against granting the Orioles a credit on their rent payments equal to the $3.5 million the team was spending on raising the height of the left-field wall.
At the time, Davis was dismissive of arguments that the wall modification was necessary for the Orioles to be competitive; he said the team wasn’t putting the best players on the field.
The rent credit was approved over Davis’ objection.
Davis also has questioned why the stadium authority has allowed the Orioles and Ravens to keep revenues from special events at the downtown stadiums such as concerts and soccer games, instead of splitting the profits with the state. Davis said that the arrangement “didn’t really pass the smell test.”
Baltimore Banner reporters Andy Kostka and Kyle Goon contributed to this article.