Officially, the Baltimore Orioles have a lease to use Oriole Park at Camden Yards until Dec. 31. After that, the team would have no place to stay and the state would have no tenant for its signature stadium.

No one wants or expects that to happen, though, and negotiators for the Maryland Stadium Authority and the ballclub have spent months ironing out the details of a new lease, with an eye on that Dec. 31 deadline.

In reality, the two sides must come together much sooner — potentially as soon as the next few days — if they are going to get a deal done before the year ends and the lease expires.

“The MSA and the state are literally working around the clock with the Orioles,” Gov. Wes Moore told reporters Wednesday.

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The Orioles did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for the Maryland Stadium Authority, Rachelina Bonacci, wrote in an email in response to questions from The Baltimore Banner: “It is still anticipated that the lease will be executed by December 31 as the parties continue to work toward that goal.”

Here’s what we know about the state of negotiations as time is running short.

Next step: Maryland Stadium Authority approval

First, the lease would need approval from the Maryland Stadium Authority’s board of directors. The 10-member stadium authority board generally meets monthly, with the December meeting scheduled Tuesday.

But the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting doesn’t include anything related to a new lease or extended lease for the Orioles at Camden Yards. It’s unclear when the stadium authority board might take up the matter.

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The stadium authority can convene additional meetings, and already this year board members have voted in a series of private phone calls to OK a memorandum of understanding that set out broad terms of a potential lease.

After that: Maryland Board of Public Works approval

Once a lease is approved by the stadium authority, it would go to the state’s Board of Public Works, composed of the governor, comptroller and treasurer. The board approves all major matters involving state-owned properties, including the ballpark.

There’s one more Board of Public Works meeting scheduled this year, on Dec. 13. That would be the last chance for final lease approval this year, unless the board schedules an additional meeting, which is rare but possible.

“We all know that Dec. 31 deadline when that lease is up,” Moore said. “We’re very clear that deadline is real. And so we also know that we have a few weeks to finalize what the next steps are going to be.”

Unknown: General Assembly approval

The Maryland General Assembly typically does not approve leases for state property. But, depending on how the lease deal is structured, it’s possible that action by the legislature will be necessary, especially because it has a key role in budgeting the state’s money.

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The General Assembly already gave the OK for the state to issue up to $600 million worth of taxpayer-financed bonds to pay for ballpark upgrades, contingent on the Orioles signing a new lease.

But, if the deal proposes to tap new or different funding streams, it’s possible that lawmakers will have to pass legislation or approve money in the state budget.

Neither the Orioles nor the Moore administration has offered specifics about whether the legislature will be involved, and Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have mostly declined to comment until they see the final proposal.

The final terms of the lease aren’t clear

Two months have passed since the state and the Orioles made a flashy, midgame scoreboard announcement that a deal had been reached to keep the team in Baltimore for 30 years.

But the deal is a nonbinding memorandum of understanding.

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The broad outlines included the Orioles remaining at Camden Yards for 30 years while paying no annual rent; the team picking up the costs of routine maintenance and operations that are currently paid for by the state; and allowing the team exclusive rights to redevelop part of the ballpark complex (including the B&O Warehouse, the Camden Station building and an adjacent parking lot) for a nominal annual fee.

Since the MOU was announced, there’s been no on-the-record information about the state of the negotiations or whether the parameters of the deal have changed. The stadium authority declined to comment on the status of negotiations “due to the discreet nature of the discussions,” Bonacci said.

The Baltimore Sun reported this week, citing anonymous sources, that the negotiations may be moving toward two separate agreements: one for the team’s use of the ballpark and another for the development deal. State officials have not disputed the newspaper’s reporting but also have not endorsed it.

The governor, when asked if he had a preference for a combined deal or two separate deals, said: “Honestly, the only thing that matters to me is that my three objectives are hit. I mean, how we are packaging that — honestly, that is less relevant.”

Moore said his three objectives are keeping the Orioles in Baltimore long term, spurring economic development beyond the stadium and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

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“We feel confident that all three of those objectives — they will be hit and they need to be hit,” Moore said, declining to offer details.

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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