A New York appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Orioles have the right to take a dispute related to TV money with the Washington Nationals to arbitration, lifting a stay in the case to set the stage for a potential arbitration hearing.
Four judges from New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division ruled unanimously that the Orioles are allowed to ask the American Arbitration Association to rule on whether Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which broadcasts games for both teams but is super-majority-owned by the Orioles, is required to pay a profit dividend payment that the network withheld from both teams in 2018.
The opinion states that the Orioles did not consent to arbitration in front of Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and that the team did not waive its right to arbitrate in front of the American Arbitration Association.
The Nationals had attempted to have the case arbitrated in front of the league instead of in courts, but a New York state court denied their request in April. According to reports from the Hollywood Reporter and The Washington Post, the Orioles cited a $25 million loan MLB made to the Nationals earlier this decade as the reason the latest dispute needs to be heard by an independent arbitrator.
“The logic of this provision is clear; to permit otherwise would, as the motion court observed, allow MLB, a potentially conflicted party, to determine whether it itself had a financial interest in one of the parties to the dispute at the relevant time,” the opinion reads.
The two sides have been battling in court ever since the Montreal Expos moved to Washington in 2005 and became the Nationals.
The case is not related to another dispute over rights fees, in which a judge upheld a ruling by an MLB panel to award the Nationals $296.8 million. The Orioles have appealed that ruling.