The Maryland Stadium Authority voted yesterday to forgive $444,000 in back rent and to lower the monthly rent for the financially struggling Sports Legends at Camden Yards museum.
Attendance at the museum has fallen drastically short of projections made when it opened in 2005. Officials have blamed declining Orioles attendance, but whatever the reason, the museum has been consistently unable to pay its $28,000 monthly rent.
"If we don't do this, they're done," Dennis Mather, a member of the authority's board, said of the rent assistance. "It's as simple as that."
The authority lowered the rent to $10,000 a month but also voted to reduce the museum's lease from 20 years to five years with an option to renew. The authority also would receive 20 percent of any museum profits.
The struggling museum has received grants from the city and state to help it keep operating. Mather said the museum's finances have stabilized in recent months and that it should be able to afford the $10,000 monthly rent.
Even with the lower rent, the stadium authority will not lose money on the space, he said.
"The reality is that we're not going to get a market rate for the building," he said. "But the other side of the coin is that we're creating opportunities for the state on the civic end."