Sarasota, FLA. — Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos reiterated in a radio interview Wednesday that the team’s future is in Baltimore despite uncertainty over the club’s future ownership.
In an interview on 105.7 The Fan’s Inside Access show that will air in segments this month, Angelos — who Major League Baseball team owners voted privately last year to act as “control person” for the club — said rumors that the team might leave the city are “untrue.”
“The team would never move,” he said. “It will never move. It’s here now, it’s here forever, it’s been here for 66-odd years and it’s going to be here for 66 more, or longer.
“What I can say without any speculation, I’ve said it before, is the Orioles will never leave Baltimore. No one in this partnership group, who are local, homegrown folks, would allow that to happen or would want that to happen, and that will not happen.”
Angelos has publicly said the same in recent years, including at a luncheon of city business leaders in 2019 when he promised the Orioles will be in Baltimore “as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor.”
In November, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias wrote in a letter to fans that “there is nothing uncertain about the future of your Orioles in Baltimore.”
The speculation to the contrary was fueled by the fact that the team’s lease at Camden Yards with the Maryland Stadium Authority was set to expire at the end of 2021, but the team and stadium authority agreed to a two-year extension last month.
That deal — which was characterized by both parties as a placeholder while they continue to negotiate a deal to keep the team at the stadium for the long term — pushes the Orioles’ option to extend the deal five more years to the end of 2023.
Angelos’ control of the team was formalized this offseason as his father, Peter Angelos, 91, continued to be in declining health. John and his brother Louis have taken on an increasingly larger role in operations of the team and the family’s law firm in recent years.
Angelos said Wednesday that the lease extension was “a positive” as the city, state, and stadium authority work with the team to envision what Camden Yards should look like over the next few decades of its existence.
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He said the vision will be of a team and city striving for its “linkage to be enhanced” with what he called “Camden Yards 2.0,” an entertainment complex that draws people from all over the state and the region.
“This is regional and this has worked, and we got to make it work for the next 30 years,” he said. “We’re going to do that with the Orioles, Ravens and all of us collaborating.”
Extending the lease for two years will allow that vision to come together, he said.
“There’s no sense in doing a five- or 10-year extension, because what that tends to do, because we’re all human, is we all put it on the back shelf for the first two, three, four or five years,” Angelos said. “That’s going to let things deteriorate. This partnership is too important to Baltimore, too important to the economy of Maryland. We’re going to reinvest, we’re all going to carry the load, and we’re going to get it done, and this just gives us the runway to do that.”
The Orioles are in the midst of a long-term rebuild on the baseball side, one that features an ever-declining major league payroll and a focus on building a contender through their farm system. Strong development practices, plus good drafts and trades, have the team hopeful for a return to contention.
Some, however, point to the team’s lack of spending on the major league side, staff reductions on the baseball and business sides in recent years and decisions to pare down the broadcast staff and schedule at the team-owned Mid-Atlantic Sports Network as signs of trouble with the club’s finances.
Any struggles would be exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which kept fans from the ballpark in 2020 and closed revenue streams while likely affecting the 2021 season as well.