John Angelos has been the designated control person of the Orioles since November 2020, taking over due to his father’s declining health. He led the team through a pandemic, a lockout and multiple 100-loss seasons.
No year, though, was as daunting as the last.
The team is heading off to new hands now, with the sale of a controlling stake to billionaire David Rubenstein and his partners formally announced Wednesday. The sale needs the approval of at least 75% of the remaining MLB owners.
On the field last year, the Orioles won 101 games, taking the American League East for the first time since 2014. But Angelos kept himself in the spotlight, oftentimes for negative reasons, during a series of twists and turns throughout 2023 that led to this sale.
Here’s a timeline outlining the major events until the deal became public.
January 2023: Opening the books?
Angelos met with the media on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to promote a $5 million contribution to CollegeBound Foundation, an organization focused on helping Baltimore public school students reach college and graduate. Instead of the focus being on the good deed, it was on a testy exchange with a reporter from the Athletic.
Angelos was asked about the future of the team, specifically what its financial situation was and if it intended to stay in Baltimore due to the lack of a long-term lease. Angelos did not provide an answer to any of the questions — saying it was disrespectful to ask on the holiday commemorating the civil rights leader despite his lack of availability over the years prior. He invited media to come to the warehouse another time, when he assured them he was going to open the books.
“In fact, I would invite you and all your colleagues next — not on Martin Luther King Day, you can come back in this building, you can meet me in this office,” he said that day. “I’II take you down on the third floor, and I’II show you the financials of the Orioles. I’ll show you the governance of the Orioles. I’ll show you everything you want to know.”
The invitation never came.
February: Early promises of a new lease
Angelos appeared at the team’s spring training complex in Sarasota, Florida, to say he hoped to have a new lease agreement with the state by the All-Star break and that his family had no plans of selling the team. He recanted on his offer to show reporters the team’s financials, saying he would not “pull out the payrolls and show you everything financially.” But he did offer to provide a “full picture of the business” during spring training. That never came either.
Later, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore traveled to Florida for negotiations in March and joined Angelos in Atlanta for a tour of Truist Park, including a development beyond the outfield walls known as The Battery Atlanta with a hotel, office buildings, apartments, shops, bars and restaurants. The idea of a “live, work, play” destination emerged.
July: No deal by Midsummer Classic
The All-Star break — the self-imposed deadline set by Angelos — came and went without a deal. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the All-Star Game that he was confident a resolution would be reached and the team would stay in Baltimore. The Orioles and Moore later made a joint statement echoing similar sentiments and insisting that progress was being made.
“We’ve laid the groundwork for success, and progress is also being made on our vision to expand and revitalize the Camden Yards campus,” the statement read. “We are determined to make it happen, and soon.”
Still, a resolution would be months away.
July-August: Kevin Brown suspended
Angelos and the team own a majority of Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which broadcasts Orioles and Nationals games, with the Nationals holding the rest. He has long regulated what the network can say on air and in writing. It hit its most public point in the summer when Brown, their primary play-by-play broadcaster, was suspended for stating a factual statistic about the Orioles’ record against the Tampa Bay Rays in previous seasons.
He was off the air for over a week. Fans supported Brown, chanting “Free Kevin Brown” at games, while the national media started a firestorm.
“They should suspend the doofus that suspended Kevin Brown,” Hall of Fame broadcaster Al Michaels said.
August: A mysterious poll and an added request
August started with a mysterious public opinion poll arriving, asking residents how they felt about a plan to revitalize the space around Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium and the surrounding areas. Angelos declined to comment on it, but “Camden Crossing,” as it was called, would likely include Camden Yards and the surrounding areas. It was unclear if this had anything to do with the lease negotiations.
While the poll circulated, the lease discussions hit another snag as Angelos asked for an additional $300 million — on top of $600 million already promised from the state — and the use of public land for new developments around Camden Yards.
The state was not going to grant the additional funds, in part because the lease with the Ravens includes a parity clause stipulating the Orioles could not receive “more favorable terms than those provided to the [Ravens].” State officials in January approved a new lease to keep the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium for the next 15 to 25 years.
By this point, it was clear the Orioles, led by Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, were heading to the playoffs. But, in an interview with The New York Times, Angelos said major extensions for young stars were beyond the team’s means unless he could implement “major” changes.
“We’re going to have to raise the prices here — dramatically,” he said.
In addition to ticket prices, Angelos again raised the idea of development rights and a public-private partnership, in which he would get the profits from restaurants, shops, bars and apartments that could be built around the stadium.
September: More false hope
In mid-September, Angelos stepped into a beer- and champagne-soaked clubhouse and drank from the homer hose as the Orioles celebrated clinching a playoff spot.
Then he made a proclamation: A new lease would be nailed down. “The Orioles have a 70-year partnership with the city and the state, and Camden Yards more than 30. And we’re going to have 30 more. That’s a given,” Angelos told The Baltimore Banner amid postgame celebrations.
An announcement came between the third and fourth innings Sept. 28, the night the Orioles claimed the AL East, that seemed to mean just that. Moore and Angelos appeared onscreen announcing that they had agreed to a deal that would keep the Orioles at Camden Yards for the next 30 years.
Many saw it as news that the lease was done and signed, but an announcement the next day said that it was a nonbinding memorandum of understanding, an agreement on some issues and a promise to keep working toward a long-term lease.
December: A lease agreement, and Rubenstein’s name emerges
By December, the two sides were close to a legally binding agreement that included a process to allow the team to negotiate a 99-year ground lease on the iconic B&O Warehouse, the vacant Camden Station building and an adjacent strip of parking for potential redevelopment.
But Senate President Bill Ferguson balked, in part because of the Bloomberg report on Rubenstein’s interest in the team. Angelos called Moore, assuring him that his family did not intend to sell the team.
A lease was finalized a little over a week later to guarantee the team will remain in Baltimore for at least another 15 years, but the development plans were pushed back. Angelos did not come to the signing, and the Orioles did not make anyone available to speak about it.
Under the terms of the deal, the Orioles have until Dec. 31, 2027, to win approval for a ground lease on the area and for specific development plans.
Jan. 30, 2024: News of a sale
Less than a month after Angelos said the Orioles were not for sale, news leaks that the Rubenstein-led group had purchased a controlling stake in the team. Angelos did not give Moore, whom he has spent the better part of the last year working with on the lease, a heads-up about the sale.
The next day, the other members of the group are revealed: Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr., former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke, billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, billionaire Michael Arougheti, medical technology CEO Michele Kang, NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill, and Mitchell Goldstein and Michael Smith, both partners at Ares Management Corp. with Arougheti.
Rubenstein, a Baltimore native who co-founded the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, would become the team’s “control person” responsible for overseeing the franchise and communicating with Major League Baseball. Angelos would remain with the club as a senior adviser.
“I look forward to working with all the Orioles owners, players and staff to build upon the incredible success the team has achieved in recent seasons,” Rubenstein said in a statement. “Our collective goal will be to bring a World Series Trophy back to the City of Baltimore. To the fans I say: we do it for you and can’t do it without you. Thank you for your support.”
Baltimore Banner editor Brandon Weigel contributed to this story.