A long-term agreement to keep the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards is not a finalized lease — yet.
Gov. Wes Moore (D) and John Angelos, Orioles chair and managing partner, appeared on video screens at the stadium Thursday night announcing a 30-year lease. Both sides, sensing high levels of fan interest in a drawn-out negotiation process, wanted to announce an agreement on a broad range of issues they believe will result in the signing of a long-term deal. It also came on a night that the team was on its way to clinching the American League East title and a top playoff spot.
A final deal including a legally binding lease is not yet inked. Instead, sources inside both the administration and the team acknowledge that what was announced was a memorandum of understanding in which both parties agreed on a framework for a deal with lawyers to flesh out the complete details — possibly by the end of the year.
“This deal secures the Orioles in Baltimore for decades to come,” said Maryland Stadium Authority Chair Craig Thompson. “They have been an important economic driver of downtown Baltimore for years. This will make Camden Yards best-in-class while driving new economic growth through some of the untapped potential surrounding the stadium. As we have seen in downtowns across the country, this is vital to diversifying the city’s economy and creating a center of gravity that attracts private sector investment.”
Sources familiar with the memorandum of understanding laid out a sweeping template that they said keeps the team in Baltimore for at least three decades. The parameters include turning over maintenance and operations of the facility to the Orioles, who in return will not have to pay rent for the iconic stadium they’ve occupied since 1992. The deal will also provide Angelos with a 99-year agreement that allows for the private redevelopment of areas around the stadium including Camden Station, parking lots and the warehouse where the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority have offices overlooking the stadium.
“I could not be more thrilled to spend decades watching the Orioles win titles in Baltimore,” Moore said in a statement. “This deal is not only a good use of state resources but will also drive economic growth in downtown and across the city. Today, we take a big step toward a more vibrant and thriving Baltimore — with good-paying jobs, a diversified economy, and opportunity for all. This deal is good for the city and the state, and I’m grateful for the partnership that got us to this day. The Baltimore renaissance is here.”
The Orioles were edging toward a shutout victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night when Moore and Angelos appeared together on a video screen. Below them, a message read: “The Orioles, Gov. Wes Moore and the state of Maryland and the Maryland Stadium Authority agreed to a deal that will keep the Orioles in Baltimore and at Camden Yards for at least the next 30-years.”
The terms of that agreement are neither complete nor legally binding.
One official familiar with the team’s position on the agreement told reporters in a briefing Friday that the team believes “the deal is done” despite a lack of a formal agreement.
Signing the lease would give the Orioles access to $600 million state policymakers approved two years ago for projects at the stadium. The Ravens, who signed a long-term lease to remain at M&T Bank Stadium earlier this year, also received $600 million.
As part of the memorandum of understanding, the state and team agreed to a long-term lease of the facility for an initial term of 30 years with two five-year extensions at the team’s option.
The team would pay no rent but would continue to make amusement and sales tax payments. The team also agrees to take over the costs of operating and maintaining the facility with oversight by the stadium authority.
State officials told reporters that the Maryland Stadium Authority spends about $6.5 million more on stadium maintenance and operations than it receives in rent payments. The authority will also kick in $3.3 million into a fund that would pay into a safety and repair fund.
Money in the fund would be used for updating and maintaining critical stadium equipment such as elevators, chillers and escalators. The Maryland Stadium Authority would control and oversee the maintenance.
Angelos was expected to make an announcement during Major League Baseball’s all-star break in July. That announcement never came.
Some believed the delay was tied to Angelos’ desire to build a “live, work and play” entertainment district adjacent to Camden Yards. The complex would be like The Battery in Atlanta near the home of the Atlanta Braves or around Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, home of the Texas Rangers.
Angelos led a tour of the Atlanta venue for Moore earlier this year.
Sources familiar with the team pointed to the development in Texas as key to drawing the All-Star game to the city and hoped a similar entertainment district in Baltimore would bring the mid-summer game back to Baltimore for the first time since 1993, a year after Camden Yards opened.
State officials told reporters Angelos will not receive additional money to develop the venue, which they said would tie into the redevelopment of nearby Harbor Place and provide a community benefit.
Instead, Angelos will be granted rights to redevelop land around the stadium for 99 years. The team will pay roughly $94 million over the period of that lease. The state agrees to provide 4,000 parking spaces to cover any lost in redevelopment projects.
People familiar with the Orioles told reporters they believe the private investment will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
State officials said that the Maryland Stadium Authority and state officials will have to approve any development plans. Details of how that process would work have not been worked out. The memorandum does contain a provision guaranteeing that Black-, women- and veteran-owned small businesses will be able to participate in contracts related to the stadium. A final percentage of that participation was not specified.
State officials said they have also not fully defined the term community benefits, including whether or not the deal would include affordable housing.
Also not defined is a timeline for completing a signed agreement. The current lease with the Orioles is set to expire at the end of the year.
State officials said an extension could be granted for a reasonable period to complete the agreement and cautioned that the extension could be months rather than years. The Maryland Stadium Authority’s Board of Directors is next scheduled to meet on Tuesday.