Baltimore Orioles Reach Agreement For New 30-Year Camden Yards Lease
After months of negotiations, the Baltimore Orioles announced Thursday night the team has reached an agreement for a new lease with the state to continue playing at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the next 30 years.
With CEO John Angelos and Gov. Wes Moore sitting in the owner’s box, the team posted news of the deal on the stadium video board during the seventh inning of Thursday night's game against the Boston Red Sox, a contest the O's went on to win, clinching its first American League East championship since 2014.
“30 MORE YEARS IN BALTIMORE. LET'S GO O'S!” Moore posted on X, formerly Twitter.
On Friday, the stakeholders released a statement through Moore's office explaining that they had consented to a memorandum of understanding, and the lease is not yet finalized. The team's existing lease expires at the end of the year.
An MOU is an agreement to proceed rather than a closed, legally binding deal. Still, the team and the state celebrated the memorandum in their joint statement as securing the team's future in Baltimore for another 30 years, which would bring the team to its 100th anniversary playing in Charm City.
“This deal is not only a good use of state resources, but will also drive economic growth in downtown and across the city,” Moore said in a statement. “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.”
In the statement issued Friday, the governor's office outlined several details in the framework for the proposed deal. Those particulars include an option for two five-year renewals in a future lease and a 99-year development rights pact for areas surrounding the ballpark, including the B&O Warehouse and Camden Station.
According to the state, the development rights agreement permits the Orioles to secure and invest private capital in projects surrounding the ballpark. The team agrees to pay $94M in rent over the 99-year term of the agreement. The agreement also calls on the state and the Orioles to collaborate on new development.
Officials hope that investment in areas around the ballpark will spur development in what the state calls “underutilized and under-occupied” areas near the stadium. The team and state predict that that investment 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.”
The memorandum also outlines plans to transfer facility operations and maintenance responsibilities from the Maryland Stadium Authority to the team. Additionally, the Orioles will assume responsibility for managing capital expenses under stadium authority oversight.
The Maryland Stadium Authority said it spends an average of $6.5M more annually on operations and maintenance of the stadium than it receives in rent. Turning those responsibilities over to the team will save taxpayers an unspecified amount of money. A portion of those savings, expected to be about $3.3M annually for the duration of the deal, will support a safety and repair fund.
Despite the Maryland General Assembly approving $600M for stadium upgrades once the O’s signed a new lease and repeated promises from team and state leaders that a deal was imminent, negotiations over a new deal dragged on throughout the summer, irritating some state officials.
A central hang-up in striking a deal had been Angelos' attempts to get an additional $300M from the state and the development rights for parking lots surrounding the stadium, which he appears to have now secured. Angelos reportedly sought the development rights to build an entertainment district like other teams in Atlanta, Texas and Philadelphia have completed.
The Orioles, who debuted in Baltimore in 1954, have played their home games at Camden Yards since 1992. Architectural critics and fans alike have hailed the ballpark as a landmark in stadium design since it opened.
Former Orioles Vice President of Planning and Development Janet Marie Smith oversaw the design from the team’s perspective, and worked with architects HOK Sports, now known as Populous, to design Oriole Park, which is often credited with kicking off a new era in stadium design.
In the decades before Oriole Park's opening, cookie-cutter multipurpose stadiums like Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium and Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati dominated stadium design.
Oriole Park countered that trend with its location in downtown Baltimore that embraced designs from ballparks constructed in the early 20th century that were explicitly designed for baseball, such as Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Chicago's Wrigley Field and Boston's Fenway Park.
In another step considered unique at the time, Oriole Park incorporated materials like brick and steel trusses that helped the vintage design reflect the surrounding urban elements, most notably the B&O Warehouse along Eutaw Street looming over right field.
UPDATE, SEPT. 29, 3:15 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to reflect Friday's release with details on the agreement, including that it is a memorandum of understanding rather than a finalized lease.