Orioles receive unanimous approval on long-term lease at Camden Yards

The Orioles beat the deadline on the expiration of their stadium lease.

No more false starts, pauses or U-turns. It’s finally done.

The club and state of Maryland reached agreement on a long-term deal that will keep the Orioles at Camden Yards.

The commitment runs for a minimum of 15 years, with expansion to 30 if the Orioles and the state agree to a development plan for the surrounding area in the next four years. Or the team could simply decide to keep it at 30.

A press release from the Orioles stated: “The deal, which follows the broad, shared goals of the memorandum of understanding agreed to this fall, represents the commitment by the Orioles organization to the City of Baltimore, our fans, and the desire to reinvigorate the area in and around Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Downtown Corridor. Additionally, this new lease agreement will spur economic growth, drive community impact, and foster the ability to maintain and build a winning, competitive, and unmatched Major League Baseball team.”

“When we began conversations with the state on a bigger vision for the ballpark and the greater plan for Baltimore, we had the shared goal of reaching an end result that would benefit both the city and state. I’m proud to say we accomplished that mission,” said Greg Bader, chief operating officer of the Orioles.

“Thank you to the team in Gov. Wes Moore’s office and the Maryland Stadium Authority for working with us to reimagine this partnership for the next generation. After a lengthy and complex process that has ultimately achieved the parties’ shared goals, we look forward to enhancements to Camden Yards that the Baltimore community can enjoy for decades to come.”

The Baltimore Banner and Baltimore Sun reported on Thursday that the Maryland Stadium Authority and the state Board of Public Works scheduled meetings for today. The MSA board granted its unanimous approval this morning in a 10 a.m. session. The Board of Public Works - a three-person spending panel consisting of Moore, Treasurer Dereck Davis and Comptroller Brooke Lierman – followed with its unanimous approval, and an announcement was made at the B&O Warehouse.

Lierman joked about looking forward to the Orioles’ recruitment of a new veteran starting pitcher this winter. But there was other business happening today.

“This deal is about more than just baseball,” Moore said. “This deal is about Baltimore.”

“From the very beginning I was clear that we would only sign an agreement that puts Maryland taxpayers at the top of mind, keeps the Orioles in Baltimore long-term, and benefits the entire City of Baltimore, and that is exactly what we have done here by extending the Orioles stadium lease at Camden Yards for another 30 years,” Moore said in the statement. “The Orioles are a valued part of the Baltimore community, and we are grateful to continue this partnership with a deal that follows the broad shared goals of the memorandum of understanding from earlier this year. This agreement will not only benefit the world-class fan experience at Camden Yards, but the entire city as well, and we are thrilled knowing that Maryland will continue to see playoff baseball in Baltimore for years to come.”

The deal enables the Orioles to unlock the $600 million in state bonds for stadium improvements. Same as the National Football League’s Ravens, who signed a 15-year extension with options on Jan. 4.

“Our management group took the Orioles to the top of the league this season, and now, in partnership with Governor Wes Moore and his Administration, they made this deal happen,” said Chairman and CEO John Angelos. “Most importantly, I’m happy we can deliver on our promise to fans of keeping the Orioles here for 30 more years, marking the 100th season of the team in Baltimore.”

Today’s news comes after a reported agreement on Dec. 8 fell apart due to Senate President Bill Ferguson’s objections over the intertwining of the lease and development rights for public land in the stadium area, including the B&O Warehouse, for creation of a year-round entertainment complex, shortly before an announcement from Moore was supposed to be published. Ferguson also had concerns about a Bloomsburg News report of interest from David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group in purchasing the Orioles and his conversations with Angelos.

“Fundamentally, I believe that the long-term lease for the use of the ballpark should not be conditioned on whether or not a private owner receives a 99-year ground lease to develop land owned by Maryland taxpayers,” Ferguson, whose district includes the ballpark, told The Baltimore Banner.

The Orioles weren’t moving out of Baltimore, but angst and frustration among the fan base kept growing with delays that inched the team toward the Dec. 31 deadline.

There also was a scoreboard announcement after the bottom of the third inning on Sept. 28 that the Orioles, Moore and the state, and the MSA agreed to a deal that would keep the team in Baltimore and at Camden Yards for at least the next 30 years. Angelos and Moore were shown on the video board smiling and applauding, along with a crowd already energized by the approaching division title, the team's first since 2014.

But the following morning, the Orioles and representatives of Moore stated that they reached agreement on a nonbinding memorandum of understanding. But not a lease.

The memorandum reportedly outlined key components of team and MSA plans and remained subject to additional modifications.

There also was talk of obtaining an extension on the current lease for perhaps a year or two while the sides worked on the final terms.

Part of the delay has been attributed to Angelos’ vision for redevelopment of the area around Camden Yards. Back in March, Angelos and Moore visited the Battery in Atlanta, a year-round entertainment experience outside of Truist Park. 

Moore told reporters again on Dec. 13 that he was “very confident” the state and the Orioles would reach an agreement by the end of the year.

House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones issued a statement that read: “I am pleased that the Baltimore Orioles will continue to play at Camden Yards. The team and complex are critical to the future success of downtown Baltimore, and it is important that we get it right.”

Camden Yards was first opened to the public in April 1992. Angelos, Moore and commissioner Rob Manfred kept insisting that the club wasn’t moving, but fans wanted a commitment.

Negotiations on a new lease began five years ago, with an extension of the old agreement – later deemed outdated – agreed upon in 2021. Only weeks remained.

“We’re 30-plus years at Camden Yards and 70 years, nearly, in Baltimore,” Angelos told MASNsports.com on the night that the Orioles clinched a playoff berth. “We’re going to be another 30 more. It’s a foregone conclusion. It’s just that the state and the Orioles and the city are really trying to get it right, to max it out and really optimize it.

“That will help the team to get better, too. It will bring more fans downtown. Already these guys have brought a couple million people downtown this year, and hopefully we’ll get back to three million soon as these exciting things happen and winning hopefully continues. All boats rise and all good things to come, I hope.”

Much smoother sailing began this afternoon.

Note: Baseball America chose the Triple-A Norfolk Tides as Minor League Team of the Year.

The Tides posted the best record in the International League at 90-59 and won their first championship since 1983. They also won the Triple-A National Championship with a 7-6 victory over Oklahoma City.

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