Gov. Larry Hogan wrote to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred last year expressing concern about the effect of the lingering television rights fee dispute between the Orioles and Washington Nationals, and offering to help broker an agreement.
Hogan said in the Aug. 31 letter — obtained by The Baltimore Sun — that the disagreement over how much the Orioles-controlled Mid-Atlantic Sports Network owes the Nationals “is of great concern to me for its potential negative impact on the Orioles, the City of Baltimore, and the State of Maryland.”
He said the dispute was holding up serious discussions of a new lease between the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority for Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The club's lease is due to expire at the end of 2021, though the Orioles have the option to extend it for five years.
“The iconic Oriole Park at Camden Yards is twenty-seven years old and will require significant reinvestment. However, due to the lingering uncertainty, we are unable to meaningfully plan for the future of perhaps the greatest ballpark in the game,” the letter said. “Thus, I ask you to immediately facilitate discussions to bring this matter to a resolution that is beneficial to all parties.”
Hogan encouraged Manfred to assure that a 2005 contract that the Orioles signed with Major League Baseball was respected. The contract stipulated that the Baltimore team would indefinitely receive most of the network’s profits in return for the Orioles agreeing to surrender the Washington market when the Nationals arrived that year.
Hogan offered to work with Manfred “to broker a meaningful discussion” to help end the dispute.
Manfred replied the next month in a letter to the governor. He said that he also wanted a “quick resolution of the ongoing dispute.”
The dispute dates back to 2012. The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that a Major League Baseball arbitration panel had decided that MASN owes the Nationals tens of millions of dollars in rights fees from 2012 through 2016.
It is uncertain if MASN and the Orioles will appeal.