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Orioles agree to 'memorandum of understanding' to remain at Camden Yards for 30 more years. Here's what that means.
By Adam Thompson,
BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore have detailed the terms that will keep the baseball team at Camden Yards for at least 30 more years.
Instead of a lease that will keep the team in Baltimore, the Orioles, Gov. Wes Moore's administration and the Maryland Stadium Authority said Friday they have agreed to a "memorandum of understanding" — essentially an agreement on some issues and a promise to continue working toward a long-term lease .
The "memo of understanding" is not binding, but the sides say it's all in the lawyers' hands now and the focus should be back on the diamond for the playoff push.
The actual lease renewal is not yet signed but the sides have agreed to keep the birds in Baltimore, all but ending speculation that they will leave town.
"The idea of a short-term deal, that was off the table for me, Gov. Moore said. "This had to be something that was going to be long-term, keeping the Orioles in Baltimore for generations."
The current lease is set to expire at the end of the year.
"It's good to know they're going to be here. I thought things were going to work out eventually," Orioles fan Scott Saxton said.
"Hopefully, when they get ready to renew (again), I'll be 105 and I'll be just as excited," fan Marjorie Miles said.
Oriole Park opened in 1992. The O's will remain in Baltimore for at least three more decades.
State officials call it "a cornerstone for a broader Baltimore renaissance."
Part of the agreement includes a revitalized downtown.
"I could not be more thrilled to spend decades watching the Orioles win titles in Baltimore," said Gov. Moore. "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 30-year lease extension comes as the Orioles won their 100th game on Thursday and secured the American League East title for the first time since 2014.
Here are some of the details of the memorandum:
Securing the Orioles' future at Camden Yards for at least 30 years, until the team's 100th anniversary in Baltimore, with the option for two five-year extensions;
A 99-year development rights agreement for the areas surrounding the ballpark, including the Warehouse and Camden Station, to energize and revitalize the Camden Yards complex;
Transferring operations and maintenance responsibilities for the ballpark from the Maryland Stadium Authority to the Orioles, which will save the state money; and
Shifting the management of capital expenditures at the ballpark to the Orioles while maintaining the Maryland Stadium Authority's oversight, including state controls and approval over any new projects on the complex.
The Maryland Stadium Authority is currently responsible for funding and carrying out all operations and maintenance work at Oriole Park, spending an average of $6.5 million per year above and beyond rent income. The rent paid by the Orioles supports the work but is not enough to cover the costs.
According to the deal, by shifting operations and maintenance responsibility to the Orioles, the Maryland Stadium Authority will save money and will contribute a portion of the savings, $3.3 million per year, for the duration of the stadium agreement toward a safety and repair fund to keep the stadium in top-notch condition. Funds will be dedicated to updating and maintaining critical stadium equipment such as elevators, chillers, and escalators. The new terms also align stadium operations with best practices from around the country, as many professional baseball teams handle their own maintenance and operations needs.
The State of Maryland and the Orioles will also enter into a new development rights agreement, allowing the Orioles to bring private capital for investment to the area surrounding the ballpark, including the Warehouse and Camden Station.
The Orioles will pay $94 million in rent over the 99-year term of the agreement and the state and the Orioles will work together on plans for the new development.
As the areas around the ballpark have historically remained underutilized and under-occupied, development will breathe new life into the area around the most popular entertainment attraction in the city and act as a cornerstone for a broader Baltimore renaissance.
"We had three goals in 2019 when we organized the Orioles management team," said Orioles CEO John Angelos. "We set out to remake the club to be a consistently competitive winner on the field, and to create a strong business and fiscal foundation to be able to do so at the highest level to sustain that competitiveness – and to completely reinvent and extend the Orioles' partnership with the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland for the next three decades to ensure that the O's would be in Baltimore up to and through our 100th anniversary. We have been very fortunate that we have achieved all of these goals."
The Orioles will have home-field advantage in the best-of-five American League Divisional Series beginning on Saturday, October 7.
"They have the mo-jo going right now," Saxton said. "It's a different, clutch guy every night, it seems."
"We've been waiting for this for years. It's just totally exciting, the city is abuzz," Orioles fan Tom Schroer said.
"We have a winning team and we have a winning formula," Miles added.