The Orioles intend to sign a new lease with the Maryland Stadium Authority committing them to remaining in Baltimore even as the family of ailing owner Peter Angelos battles in court over control of the team, according to a document obtained by The Baltimore Sun.
“As a lifelong Baltimorean I very much look forward to signing on behalf of the Club,” Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos said in a Sept. 1 memorandum to about 250 of the team’s front office staff members.
He said in the memo that the lease would be part of a broader “memorandum of understanding” underscoring the team’s “special relationship with the State of Maryland and the Greater Baltimore area” and highlighting “our philosophy of what true private-public partnership should be about.”
John Angelos has said previously that the team would stay in Baltimore. The memo was the strongest signal yet of his intention to lock in that commitment in a lease.
The memo refers to long-term goals such as “redeveloping the Camden Yards Sports Complex into a year-round Live/Work/Play entertainment destination” that could boost the city’s economic fortunes. The city, state, Orioles and Ravens are all involved in the redevelopment of the area around the stadiums and Horseshoe Casino.
Locking the team into a new lease could depress the price if the family ultimately decided to sell. But a new lease is critical to binding the Orioles to Baltimore. The current agreement contains a clause barring “the relocation of the Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball Team from Baltimore, Maryland.”
That lease was to expire at the end of 2021. With no new deal imminent, the parties agreed in February 2021 to extend the agreement for two years, through Dec. 31, 2023, with the club retaining the right to exercise a one-time, five-year extension by Feb. 1, 2023.
No date has been set for the lease signing. Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Thomas Kelso said in an interview Thursday that the protracted length of the lease talks did not signal problems between the parties.
“No inferences should be drawn from the length of time it takes to get an agreement done,” Kelso said. “It has to be right.”
The Orioles had no immediate comment, spokeswoman Jennifer Grondahl said.
Looming over the lease negotiations is the memory of the NFL’s Colts leaving town for Indianapolis on a March night in 1984 following a dispute with the city over improvements to Memorial Stadium.
Baltimoreans’ anxieties about the Orioles’ future were heightened when Louis Angelos, the owner’s youngest son, filed suit in Baltimore County Circuit Court in June against his mother, Georgia, and brother, John, over what he characterized as John’s attempt to take control and ownership of their fortune after his father became incapacitated.
When Georgia Angelos responded with her own legal filing, those documents said her husband indicated that the team “should be sold on his death so Georgia could enjoy the great wealth they had amassed together.”
But Georgia Angelos’ suit also said her husband believed any sale of the team should be her decision. Sources told The Sun in August that John Angelos, who is allied with his mother in the proceedings, would like the family to keep a majority stake in the team.
The stadium authority says the legal proceedings aren’t affecting its lease negotiations with the team.
Jeffrey Nusinov, an attorney for Louis Angelos, did not return messages seeking comment.
In 2020, the stadium authority began studying a shift in stadium funding with an eye on keeping the Orioles happy and in Baltimore.
Under the new approach, approved last spring by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan, the stadium authority can borrow up to $1.2 billion to pay for stadium improvements —$600 million each for the Orioles and Ravens. But no bonds can be issued without a lease, and the lease must be long enough to pay off the longest-term bonds.
John Angelos’ four-page memo, which also outlined profit-sharing plans for club employees, said the state money would be used for “the reinvestment and re-imagination of the Camden Yards Sports Complex.”
The club has said it would be premature to discuss specific stadium projects. Many newer stadiums are smaller and include open concourses with field views, and stadium clubs.
Any new lease would need to be approved by the state Board of Public Works, which is made up of the governor, state treasurer and state comptroller.
Source: Berkshire mont
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