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Politics

New governor to replace Maryland Stadium Authority chair Thomas Kelso

Thomas Kelso, the Maryland Stadium Authority chairman under former Gov. Larry Hogan who has worked closely with the Orioles and Ravens on their stadium leases, won’t be reappointed under new Democratic Gov. Wes Moore.

Kelso is on a list of Hogan appointees who Moore has opted to replace, according to a letter obtained by The Baltimore Sun that Moore sent this week to state Senate President Bill Ferguson.

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The impending change at the top of the agency comes as it negotiates with the Orioles on the lease for their home, the state-owned Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The club has until Feb. 1 to act on an option to renew the lease for five years; otherwise it will expire Dec. 31.

The discussions have continued during a tumultuous period in which the family of ailing Orioles owner Peter Angelos is feuding in court over much of his fortune. Kelso has said the battles would not impede discussions about a new lease that would commit the team to Baltimore for the long term.

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In a written statement, Moore spokesman Carter Elliott said Wednesday that the stadium authority “carried out numerous important projects which positively impacted our communities across the state” during Kelso’s tenure.

“The administration looks forward to working with him until a new chair is in place, who will be announced in the near future,” the statement said.

Asked about announcing the change during the Orioles’ lease negotiations, Elliott replied the agency “has a long history of partnership and collaboration with the Orioles, and is going to continue carrying on that tradition.”

Kelso declined to comment.

Hogan appointed Kelso, the president of Matrix Capital Markets Group Inc. and a donor to the Republican politician, in 2015. Kelso gave $16,000 to Hogan political committees between 2014 and 2021, in addition to contributing to Democratic candidates such as Ferguson and former Baltimore mayors Sheila Dixon and Catherine Pugh, according to campaign finance records.

Hogan reappointed Kelso to the unpaid position in 2018 and again in July. Governors nominate six members to the stadium authority’s board, subject to the state Senate’s approval. The mayor of Baltimore, the Senate president and the speaker of the state House of Delegates each nominate one member.

While talks with the Orioles are ongoing, the stadium authority signed a 15-year lease earlier this month with the Ravens for the publicly owned M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens plan to upgrade the 25-year-old structure with new field-level vantage points and social spaces for fans, redesigned outdoor plazas, and the excavation of a service level beneath the stands so it rings the stadium instead of stopping partway around.

Driving the improvements, and therefore the lease signing, was a 2022 state law that lets the stadium authority borrow up to $1.2 billion to pay for improvements at Baltimore’s two professional sports stadiums: $600 million each for M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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Kelso advocated for the legislation, saying the goal was to extend the stadiums’ lives and ensure they cater to fans’ evolving tastes. He also has pushed for the area around the stadiums to be more inviting and accessible so the space is used more frequently on nongame days.

In addition to serving as landlord for the Baltimore stadiums, the stadium authority finances and builds other stadiums and projects around the state, and was charged with issuing up to $375 million of bonds to pay for massive renovations at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County. It also has partnered with Baltimore City on extensive school renovation and replacement projects.

Its mission also includes marketing of sports events benefitting the state, as well as economic studies.


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