The Orioles are not exercising a one-time, five-year lease extension to remain at Oriole Park Camden Yards, according to two sources familiar with the situation, and will instead focus on a long-term deal to stay at the ballpark.
Now, the Major League Baseball organization must negotiate a new agreement with the Maryland Stadium Authority prior to its current deal expiring at the end of the year.
In a joint statement Wednesday, Gov. Wes Moore and Orioles CEO John Angelos said they intend to redevelop Camden Yards and “deliver a live, work, play theme that will bring residents, businesses, and tourists to downtown Baltimore year-round.”
That will require additional negotiating over a new lease in the coming months. And once an agreement is reached, more improvements to the stadium can be made.
“When Camden Yards opened thirty years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore said in a statement. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership. We look forward to writing the next chapter of major league baseball in Maryland as we continue to make magic for fans and meaningful investment for communities across our state.”
Added Angelos in a statement: “I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the State of Maryland deserves.
“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA Board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”
The original lease at Camden Yards began in 1992, when the stadium was completed, and ran for 30 years. Before the agreement’s expiration in 2021, the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Orioles agreed to a two-year extension, which served as a stop-gap of sorts before a long-term lease could be agreed upon.
Passing on the one-time extension doesn’t close the door on the Orioles remaining in Baltimore by any means, although attention now turns to the expiration date on Dec. 31.
“We’re going to get this done for just about every reason,” Angelos said at a press conference on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “We’re all local people who have the best of intentions, so fear not, the Orioles will be here.”
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott added to Angelos’ comments, referencing the midnight move of the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in 1984.
“Baltimore knows what it feels like when a team is disinvesting and going to leave, right?” Scott said. “This isn’t that. ... There are many worries that I have; the Orioles are not one.”
Still, without a long-term lease signed, thoughts shift back to the Colts. There are considerable off-field questions swirling around the Orioles, with members of the Angelos family embroiled in a lawsuit over the future of owner Peter Angelos’ fortune.
In court documents, Louis Angelos insinuates that his brother could relocate the franchise. John Angelos, meanwhile, has reiterated that the Orioles will remain in Baltimore. A new lease agreement would be a big step beyond verbal promises.
“The Orioles are going to be here for the long term,” John Angelos said last month. “We have been here, and I’ve said many times publicly — unsolicited, unprompted — we’re never going anywhere.”
The state in early January approved a new lease to keep the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium for an additional 15 to 25 years. The Ravens’ lease wasn’t due to expire until after the 2027 season — meaning they made the move five years earlier than technically required. A major reason for doing so: With an agreement in place, the Ravens can begin improving the stadium with their share of $1.2 billion that the state set aside for improvements to the Camden Yards complex.
Last year, the state set aside those bonds as an incentive for the Orioles and Ravens. Each team would receive their $600 million upon approval from the Maryland Stadium Authority Board of Directors and Maryland Board of Public Works.
While a new lease wasn’t explicitly indicated as a requirement in the bill, the funds for stadium improvements were seen as a key bargaining chip in securing long-term leases.
By activating the lease extension, the Orioles might’ve been approved to receive the $600 million for stadium improvements. Instead, they’ll have to wait until a new lease is reached.
Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this report.