With Maryland Gov. Wes Moore pausing a proposed Baltimore Orioles lease for Oriole Park that would give the team development rights to the Camden Yards area, ownership is reportedly in talks to sell the team.
Things have certainly changed since late September, when the team and the governor announced a 30-year long-term deal to keep the team at Oriole Park while also granting the team development rights to a potential entertainment district at Camden Yards. We all know entertainment districts are all the rage in professional sports since the inception of The Battery–following the success of the Gaslamp District in San Diego–and the Orioles are merely the latest team to jump on the trend. Tying one to a new Orioles lease was sold as a win-win for all involved.
Since then, however, the deal has basically collapsed. Last week Moore called for a pause in negotiating the long-term lease following the emergence of state politicians opposing granting development rights to state-owned land in the Camden Yards area. State Senate President Bill Ferguson, for example, spoke out against a private entity like the Orioles awarded development rights on public land:
“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 said in a written statement. “This is more relevant today, as recent news has heightened uncertainties about the future ownership of the team.”
Those uncertainties center around a report that the Angelos have been talking with Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein about a sale of the team–a report from Bloomberg that’s not been confirmed as to any specifics. There have been rumors for years about the family selling the team–either to someone like Baltimore native Rubenstein or interests who would move the franchise to Nashville.
Now, news about a potential sale of the team comes at the worst possible time for the Angelos family and the team regarding an Orioles lease. Granting the team development rights to state-owned land was always going to require some finesse both from the Angelos and Moore; tying a long-term lease to the development was a smart move, but clearly the team would need to sweeten the pot to finalize a deal. Introducing a potential sale of the team merely muddies the waters: who really has final say over the future of the team?
RELATED STORIES: O’s commit to Oriole Park for 30 more years; Gov, O’s: We want to revitalize Camden Yards; State funding approved for Oriole Park renovations, MiLB ballpark upgrades; Orioles, Maryland Stadium Authority still discussing Oriole Park renovations; Orioles, MSA extend Oriole Park lease through 2023; Future of Orioles ownership in transitional time; Orioles, stadium authority negotiating new Oriole Park lease; Baltimore Orioles Planning Oriole Park Future