Late Wednesday evening, the Baltimore Orioles released a statement informing the world that the club was not exercising a one-time, five-year lease extension to remain at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
For a bit less than 24 hours, the statement created quite a buzz around town regarding the future of the team in Baltimore. Thursday evening on WBAL radio, club officials took to the airways to ease the fears of Orioles fans.
Midday Thursday, the Orioles announced that the club and the state of Maryland will instead focus on a long-term deal to stay both in Baltimore and obviously Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Wednesday, new Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Orioles CEO John Angelos said they intend to redevelop Camden Yards and deliver “a live, work, play theme that will bring residents, businesses and tourists to downtown Baltimore year-round.”
The original lease at Camden Yards began in 1992, the year the stadium opened, and ran for 30 years. Shortly before the deal expired, the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Orioles agreed to a two-year extension, which was a bandage before a long-term lease could be negotiated.
Passing on this one-time extension doesn’t close the door on the club remaining in Baltimore, rather it shines a brighter light on the expiration date of Dec. 31, and I don’t like it.
Without a long-term lease, my thoughts keep going back to the Baltimore Colts.
There was a lot going on within the family of Colts owner Robert Irsay in the early 1980s. Fast forward to 2023, and there are considerable off-field questions swirling around the Orioles, with members of the Angelos family, the team’s current owners, knee-deep in a lawsuit over the future of owner of Peter Angelos’ vast fortune.
Recent court documents have Louis Angelos saying that his brother could relocate the franchise. John Angelos, who has control of the team, has made it clear the Orioles will remain in Baltimore.
Signing that extension Wednesday would have made many feel better, including myself. Verbal promises are just that – promises.
I can clearly remember the late Bob Irsay saying, “The Colts will never leave Baltimore.” And to be honest, I don’t trust John Angelos.
Angelos is famous for saying in a thousand words what could be said in a few hundred. Thursday, club officials had plenty to say, without much substance to any of it.
A statement about the Orioles being committed to Baltimore for the long-term. A few words about the “partnership” between the Orioles and the state of Maryland. “A commitment” from both sides. Blah, blah, blah.
Cutting to the chase, the decision not to sign an extension leaves the Orioles with no lease beyond this year, and now a closing window to work through a process that has dragged out for years.
The Angelos gang, err, family, is operating from a position of power. They know the Maryland Stadium Authority will never hold steadfast to the Dec. 31 deadline. After all, who would fill the void of the Orioles, the Commanders? The Nationals? Perhaps they could convince the Yankees to move south.
John Angelos resides in Nashville. It’s no secret that MLB covets the cities of Nashville and Charlotte, both being viewed as prime candidates for either expansion or relocation.
Conspiracy folks in Baltimore (Bob Irsay haters) believe Angelos is playing both sides of the fence to fatten his gang’s, err family’s fortune, even greater.
They may well be right.
Signing an extension would dampen those fears.
Until then, look out for the moving vans.