It was reported back in February that the Orioles had declined a five-year lease extension on their lease at Camden Yards. The hope was that they could work out a longer deal that would allow them to take advantage of a new Maryland law and borrow $600MM for stadium upgrades. It was hoped that the longer deal would be worked out by the All-Star break, but it hasn’t come to fruition, with new reporting from Andy Kostka, Brenda Wintrode, Hallie Miller and Pamela Wood of The Baltimore Banner indicating club CEO and chairman John Angelos is trying to leverage the negotiations to acquire public land.
As noted in the report, Angelos and Maryland Governor Wes Moore took a tour of The Battery in March. The Atlanta area development houses Truist Park, where the Braves play, as well as various other spaces for retail, commercial and residential uses. He seems to see The Battery as a kind of model to emulate, though there are logistical challenges to following that blueprint in Baltimore. As noted in the report from the Banner, the Braves moved away from Turner Field in Atlanta to the suburb of Cumberland, purchasing 82 acres of land and spending $452MM on The Battery.
With that model in mind, Angelos is reportedly trying to get an extra $300MM in state funds as well as public land around Camden Yards, which is holding up a deal as the deadline looms at the end of the year. There are several obstacles to Angelos getting his wish, per the authors of the report.
One complication involves the Baltimore Ravens, who play in M&T Bank Stadium, just south of Camden Yards. The Maryland Stadium Authority lease with the Ravens, which that club signed in January, contains a clause requiring “parity” with their fowl neighbors. If the authority negotiates more favorable terms for the Orioles, they would have to modify their agreement with the Ravens in a comparable fashion.
Another part of that lease is that 4,000 nearby parking spaces have to remain surface lots, not to be turned into underground parking, so as to allow tailgating. The report notes that there are also state-owned parking lots nearby, with the revenue generated from those lots goes to the teams. If the O’s wanted that land, the authority would need to start a procurement process that could involve bids from other developers. One source with knowledge of the negotiations tells the authors that Angelos won’t get the land or money he is seeking.
Regardless of the complicated details, the report notes that the negotiations have shifted, with the plan moving from straightforward stadium upgrades to a much more complex design. A public opinion poll was circulated this week, from an unknown source, asking Marylanders how they felt about the Orioles potentially pursuing a larger revitalization project in a “public-private partnership.”
All this comes on the heels of an apparently tumultuous period for the Angelos family. Reports from 2022 indicated the family had been battling each other over how to move forward with the club after Peter Angelos collapsed in 2017, with Goldman Sachs having been retained to look into the possibility of a sale. There were various lawsuits involving Peter’s wife Georgia and their sons John and Louis, though it was reported in February of 2023 that those had all been dropped, just a few days after the club declined to renew its lease at Camden Yards. John was formally approved by the league’s other owners as the Orioles’ new control person following the 2020 season.
John Angelos has declined to comment on the current matter but Governor Moore expressed optimism about the process. “There is a core belief that this is about what we need to do to create a winner on the field, but also I’m committed to making sure that this is a win for Baltimore, and that this is a win for the state of Maryland,” he said. “We have a shared vision to be able to build a new journey and a new era where having the Orioles and the Ravens and all the other activities you can have in Baltimore … [happen] simultaneously. And we’re all going to win.” The current lease expires on December 31 of this year.