A planned lease and development deal for the Baltimore Orioles crashed spectacularly on Friday just before it was set for a public announcement.

That leaves the baseball team with less than three weeks left on its current lease for the state-owned Oriole Park at Camden Yards. So what happens now?

Are the Orioles and the state still talking?

Neither the office of Gov. Wes Moore nor the Maryland Stadium Authority responded to questions on Monday about the status of the negotiations — including whether they are happening at all. The Baltimore Orioles didn’t have anything to say publicly either.

But it’s believed the parties have continued talking about what’s next and whether the agreement can be salvaged or if they need to go back to the drawing board.

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It’s possible that the two sides could come to a new agreement by the end of the year encompassing both the priorities of Moore and Orioles CEO and chairman John Angelos, while also addressing concerns that scuttled the deal last week.

Angelos has made clear he wants both a lease for the ballpark itself and the rights to redevelop areas around the park, including the B&O Warehouse, the vacant Camden Station building and a nearby strip of parking.

Moore, a Democrat, has repeatedly said he has three goals: Keeping the Orioles in Baltimore long term, creating “winners off the field” and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

Last week’s deal ran into objections from Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Democrat, who has publicly said the lease should come first before development — and the two were intertwined in the proposal put forward on Friday.

While Ferguson can’t legally stop the deal on his own, he carries significant influence on other political players who are also in the chain of approvals. He also represents a district that includes Oriole Park.

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Satisfying the priorities of Moore, Angelos and Ferguson in one deal will be a tall order.

The current lease for the Baltimore Orioles at state-owned Oriole Park at Camden Yards expires on Dec. 31, 2023. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

A short-term option?

When Moore was forced to walk the deal back on Friday, senior officials on his staff indicated to The Baltimore Banner that they may have to put forward some sort of a stopgap measure to keep the Orioles at Camden Yards while negotiations continue.

“We will advance some lease to keep us in compliance,” a senior Moore administration official said.

A short-term deal has been contemplated, at least on some level, by the state government.

Last week, when Maryland Stadium Authority Executive Director Michael Frenz was asked hypothetically about what happens if there’s not a new lease by the end of the year, he answered: “My suspicion is that they would continue to be on sort of a month-to-month type of lease agreement. I mean, certainly we’re not going to kick them out on 12/31 or January 1st.”

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That hypothetical question is moving closer to becoming a real question. But Frenz and other stadium authority officials, including Chairman Craig Thompson, did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Exterior details of Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore on 2/2/23.
The current lease for the Baltimore Orioles at state-owned Oriole Park at Camden Yards expires on Dec. 31, 2023. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

What approvals are needed?

Leases for state-owned stadiums need approval first from the Maryland Stadium Authority’s Board of Directors and then from the state Board of Public Works, composed of the governor, treasurer and comptroller.

The full stadium authority board is not scheduled to meet again until January. But the board can quickly call meetings, and even held a vote in a series of private phone calls this fall to endorse a memorandum of understanding that laid an early framework for the Orioles deal.

The stadium authority board currently has 10 of its 11 seats filled; six votes are required to approve an item.

The Board of Public Works has its final scheduled meeting of the year on Wednesday, and there’s no Orioles lease on the agenda. Two of the three members must vote for an item to pass.

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Additional meetings of the Board of Public Works can be called but, at least as of Friday, the governor’s office indicated that’s not the plan.

“The governor has power to call an emergency meeting. We won’t do that before the end of the year,” a senior Moore administration official told The Baltimore Banner.

If a development deal is part of the agreement, that would require further approvals, including from the General Assembly’s Legislative Policy Committee, a bipartisan committee of all of the top state lawmakers.

Are there other roadblocks?

At least three other top officials besides Ferguson were briefed on the proposed Orioles deal on Friday: House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, Comptroller Brooke Lierman and Treasurer Dereck Davis, all Democrats.

It’s not known if the others also have concerns or objections. Davis and Jones declined to comment on Monday.

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Robyne McCullough, a spokeswoman for Lierman, said in a statement: “While Comptroller Lierman cannot comment ahead of a vote by the Board of Public Works, she favors a path forward that keeps the Orioles in Baltimore and that allows for effective oversight and ongoing scrutiny of how taxpayer funds are spent. As negotiations continue, Comptroller Lierman is committed to accountability to taxpayers and securing the best value for Marylanders.”

Baltimore Banner reporter Andy Kostka contributed to this article.

Pamela Wood covers Maryland politics and government. She previously reported for The Baltimore Sun, The Capital and other Maryland newspapers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, she lives in northern Anne Arundel County. 

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