Orioles to decline 5-year Camden Yards lease extension, say new long-term agreement would revitalize stadium district
Published in Baseball
BALTIMORE — The Orioles will decline an option to extend their Camden Yards lease by five more years, planning instead to secure a longer-term, more comprehensive stadium agreement, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
The lease expires at the end of 2023, and the baseball team expects to reach a new agreement by then with the Maryland Stadium Authority, the sources told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. They are familiar with the thinking of negotiators, but requested anonymity because the decision had not yet been announced.
The bigger deal is expected to commit the team to Baltimore for many more years, as well as outline plans for upgrades to the state-owned ballpark. It also could include redevelopment projects at or near the site to boost the region’s economy.
The Orioles and Democratic Gov. Wes Moore issued a joint news release Wednesday evening expressing their “commitment to creating a long-term, multi-decade, public-private partnership that both develops and revitalizes the Camden Yards complex as a magnet for sports tourism and leverages Maryland taxpayers’ investment in the property.”
The news release didn’t mention the decision on the 5-year option.
The club and the state, said Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos in the release, have a “tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore,” while potentially serving “as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”
With the decision not to exercise the 5-year option, the club and stadium authority are left with 11 months until an extension signed in February 2021 expires. That deal was made when the original lease, dating to 1992, neared its end.
Ideally, one of the sources told The Sun, the team would like a deal of at least 10 or 15 years in place by the All-Star break on July 11, despite the planned departure of one of the state’s chief negotiators.
But if talks stretch out, there’s nothing to keep the parties from signing another extension of a year or two before the current agreement expires. Such a short extension would be preferable, both sources said, to the now-discarded 5-year option that, in effect, would have rolled over outdated provisions from more than 30 years ago.
Signing that extension might have eased any lingering concerns among fans, community leaders and surrounding businesses about the club relocating to another city. Angelos has said he won’t move the team. But uncertainty about the lease and disclosures in his family’s internecine legal battle over its finances have meant his avowals haven’t quieted all jitters.
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