With only weeks remaining on their lease at Camden Yards, Orioles officials are pushing back against the idea of signing a long-term lease without including development rights at the complex.

According to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, talks have been fraught in recent weeks as the team and state attempt to hash out a deal after announcing a non-binding memorandum of understanding in September. The source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos is not inclined to make major adjustments to the MOU.

A Baltimore Sun report last week suggested the sides were “considering separating the complex — and potentially contentious — issue of stadium-area development rights from the pressing need to finalize a lease.” But the source said that was not the case and that Angelos expects the state to honor the terms of the MOU — which was already agreed upon by each member of the Maryland Stadium Authority board.

The negotiations between the Orioles and the state are ongoing, and there is an urgency surrounding the deliberations ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline, a source said. There’s still time, and negotiations often go down to the wire, but there are significant portions of the deal that need to be worked out over the next few weeks.

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A spokesperson for Moore declined to comment. The Orioles did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Angelos declined to comment.

The latest back-and-forth may come as a surprise to Orioles fans and Maryland taxpayers who were under the impression a deal had already been worked out. On the scoreboard at Camden Yards on Sept. 28, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore stood with Angelos, waving to a crowd while announcing that the baseball team would remain in Baltimore for at least another 30 years.

A deal, the note on the scoreboard read, had been reached. The message sent to a full stadium and thousands of fans watching the game from home in hopes their team would clinch the AL East that night was unambiguous: They could rest easy. There would be no frantic negotiations pressing up against the Dec. 31 expiration of the current lease. The team was securing its first division title in nearly a decade; the state and ownership group had secured decades of baseball in Baltimore.

Yet no lease has been signed. The “deal” that had been agreed to that day turned out to be an MOU that covered more than simple lease terms. It also promised opportunities for Angelos to create new revenue streams via development of state-owned buildings and land. Angelos, the source said, is committed to including further development of the Camden Yards complex — which he sees as crucial to the revitalization of downtown — in a formal lease agreement.

The Maryland Stadium Authority and Moore’s administration have floated the idea of separating the stadium lease agreement from the development rights deal. Orioles leadership, however, has been reticent to discuss significant alterations to the original agreement. The source said a finalized deal may not be identical to the MOU but should hew closely to that vision.

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Gov. Wes Moore is shown as the Orioles announced during Thursday night's game that they agreed to a deal keeping the team in Camden Yards for at least 30 years.
Gov. Wes Moore and John Angelos cheer the Sept. 28 announcement that the Orioles would remain in Baltimore for at least 30 years. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The governor said last week that he was committed to getting the deal done by the end of the year.

Moore told reporters last Wednesday that his priorities are to keep the Orioles long-term, create “winners off the field” and to be responsible stewards of tax dollars.

“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.

Moore hasn’t spoken publicly about the lease negotiations since then. He went to Phoenix over the weekend for a Democratic Governors Association meeting and had no public schedule planned for Monday.

The 10-member Maryland Stadium Authority board would need to approve the agreement, and approval is required from the Maryland Board of Public Works, which is composed of the governor, comptroller and treasurer.

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The next stadium authority meeting is Tuesday. In an agenda posted Friday, there was no scheduled discussion of a new Orioles lease or an extension to the current one. The stadium authority, however, can convene additional meetings or vote via private phone calls.

The terms of the memorandum of understanding allow the Orioles to seek private capital to fund development near Camden Yards. They also transfer stadium upkeep to the team rather than the state, while eliminating the rent the Orioles pay to use the ballpark.

At the time the memorandum of understanding was agreed to, details of the oversight of private sector development were being finalized, senior Moore officials and others with knowledge of the specifics of the agreement said.

The exact process, one person with knowledge of the situation said, would involve the Maryland Stadium Authority, the Maryland Board of Public Works and the Orioles. The Orioles would lead that development process, a senior Moore administration official said in September, although the state would have oversight via checks and approvals on the process.

Details of the private development haven’t been shared publicly, although the MOU indicates the Orioles would have rights to develop within Camden Station and the B&O Warehouse. The long-discussed vision from Angelos has been to develop a “live, work, play” environment around Camden Yards to create a year-round destination within downtown.

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Until a lease is signed, the Orioles will wait to receive $600 million in state-funded municipal bonds to use on stadium upgrades.

Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this report.