Maryland Gov. says Orioles lease deal at Camden Yards is ‘imminent’

Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (Julio Cortez/AP)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said Wednesday that he believes a new lease agreement with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards is “imminent,” as an end-of-the year deadline approaches.

Moore spoke to reporters after a meeting of the state’s Board of Public Works, which would need to approve a final deal. The governor spoke about the negotiations after his administration announced Friday that it would address concerns expressed by the state Senate president about a proposed agreement.

“We’ve been working all throughout the weekend and the week with all the partners, and we feel very confident that a deal is imminent,” said Moore, who chairs the three-member board.

It was the board’s last scheduled meeting this year, though Moore emphasized that it was the last regularly scheduled meeting, suggesting another one could be called to approve a new lease before the end of the year.

“We have to do, and we’re going to do, the best deal for the taxpayers,” Moore said. “We’re going to make sure that this is a long-term deal. We’re not doing a one-year, we’re not doing a short-term deal. We are going to make sure that we are being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we have to make sure we’re creating winners, not just on the field but also winners off the field.”

Maryland Treasurer Dereck Davis, a board member who expressed concerns about “foot-dragging” in the negotiations in July, said he was confident an agreement will be reached before the end of the year.

“I believe that we’ll have a resolution real soon,” Davis said Wednesday.

The Orioles’ lease at Camden Yards expires at the end of the year. In September, the team dramatically announced a new 30-year deal to stay at the ballpark — a message to that effect appeared on the scoreboard in the middle of a game the night the team clinched the AL East. The next day, the governor’s office released details of a memorandum of understanding involving Moore, the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority.

The September agreement included a 99-year development rights agreement for areas surrounding the ballpark, including the warehouse and Camden Station. That was a sticking point for Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, whose district includes the stadium.

“Fundamentally, I believe that the long-term lease for the use of the ballpark should not be conditioned on whether or not a private owner receives a 99-year ground lease to develop land owned by Maryland taxpayers,” Ferguson said in a statement Friday. “This is more relevant today, as recent news has heightened uncertainties about the future ownership of the team.”

Bloomberg reported last week, citing unidentified sources, that Carlyle Group Inc. co-founder David Rubenstein has been in talks to acquire the Orioles.

Last year, the state increased bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

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