Top Orioles executive John Angelos told a crowd of Baltimore business leaders Thursday that the team would stay in Baltimore “as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor.”

Angelos, a son of Orioles managing partner Peter G. Angelos, was speaking on a panel at Visit Baltimore’s annual meeting at M&T Bank Stadium.

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“For me, it’s a fact that we’re here,” Angelos told The Baltimore Sun after the panel. “I was born here, lived here. … I’ve always lived downtown to one degree or another. Not only that, but our partnership group is all local, people that are heavily invested now and indefinitely in the city and the future of this city, and that’s just real. The Orioles are a Baltimore institution. The Orioles will be in Baltimore, be in Maryland. That’s the beginning and the end as far as I’m concerned.”

The remarks are Angelos’ first public comments since last month’s buzz around the city that the team was either up for sale or looking to move, though team officials anonymously shot down that talk at the time.

That speculation was fueled by the fact that the team’s lease at Camden Yards expires after the 2021 season, though the Orioles have the option to extend that lease with the Maryland Stadium Authority by five years. The ongoing legal dispute with the Washington Nationals over Mid-Atlantic Sports Network television rights fees, as well as the declining health of the elder Angelos, also contributed to concerns about the club’s future in Baltimore.

John Angelos spoke alongside Dick Cass, president of the Baltimore Ravens, and Jacqueline McWilliams, commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which is bringing the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to Baltimore in 2021, on a panel titled “Our Community and Sports: An Impactful Partnership.”

Angelos and Cass provided some general outlooks on customer outreach and what their respective organizations were doing to build fan bases in the digital age. Cass noted that the teams’ social media platforms and websites were vital to connecting their players to younger audiences and getting players out in the community.

Both said Baltimore’s social and business landscape are ripe for supporting professional sports. McWilliams pointed to the culture and traditions of the city as the reasons why it’s perfect for the CIAA tournaments, which typically draw 150,000 people over seven days at the current venue in Charlotte, North Carolina.

While the session was mostly about the power of sports to create business and financial impact for the city’s future, and how to draw a younger generation to professional sports, Angelos was pressed to answer some for the Orioles’ on-field misfortunes during this session.

He touted the experiences of executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias at his past stops, including with the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros, and noted the Orioles won more games than any other American League team from 2012-16 with three playoff appearances in that span. The club “tried to keep the team together for a couple extra years” to build on that, Angelos said.

Responding to a fan who said the Orioles were making her sad all the time, he said: “You’ll be happy very soon.”

Angelos said he hopes delivering that message and making assurances the team will remain in Baltimore to Thursday’s audience “helps to create understanding and communication and transparency.”

“I think what we were doing here today ... [was] to talk about why Baltimore is a magnet and why we all believe in Baltimore, why the CIAA conference chose [here],” Angelos said. “They could have gone many many places. They wanted to be in Baltimore.

“The Ravens and Orioles want to be in Baltimore, and we want to be a cheerleader for Baltimore," he said. "We want to tell everybody, in this room and outside, that the future is bright. The pendulum swings. Things ebb and flow in baseball. Things ebb and flow in the city. Things ebb and flow in tourism. But it always comes back the other way.”

He said during the panel that the city’s partisans shouldn’t be discouraged from building up the city.

“I’m incredibly bullish on Baltimore,” Angelos told The Sun. “That’s just the way it is. We’re not going to change. The Orioles aren’t going to change their view on that. Our ownership group, our partnership group will never change our view on that. The Orioles will be here for all time, in Baltimore. It’s pretty simple.”

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