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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Stadium authority says Angelos family split won’t prevent lease talks to keep Orioles in Baltimore

The lawsuit that has divided the family of ailing Orioles owner Peter Angelos won’t stop discussions about a new lease to keep the team in Baltimore, according to the Maryland Stadium Authority, which says it’s CEO John continues to recognize the authority of Angelos. from the club.

The stadium authority – the landlord of the Major League Baseball team at Camden Yards – said Monday that lease talks are ongoing with John Angelos, whose brother Louis accuses him of trying to gain control and ownership of the family fortunes, including the Orioles. Is.

“The Orioles have represented to us that he” [John Angelos] MLB is the CEO of the Orioles and controlling person under the agreement, and MSA will continue to work with him and the team leadership unless we are told differently,” Stadium Authority Chairman Thomas Kelso told questions from the Baltimore Sun. We have an excellent working relationship with John and the team’s senior leadership.

A new lease is vital to tying the team to Baltimore. The current lease includes a clause excluding “the relocation of the Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball team from Baltimore, Maryland.”

In his first public comments since the lawsuit was filed on Thursday, John Angelos sought to reassure Baltimorians on Monday that the Orioles would live in the city “for generations to come.”

In his suit, Louis Angelos raised the possibility that his brother, “if he chooses,” could move the team to Tennessee, where John Angelos and his wife are home. He also said that it is the family’s intention to sell the team.

In his statement, John Angelos said that the state of Maryland is “committed to placing our team in this great position, and I am equally committed to placing the Orioles at the center of our state.”

He also stated that, “Since I was appointed President and CEO in accordance with my parents’ wishes, and was voted by 30 Major League clubs as the controlling person for the team, I made sure to We have taken important steps to preserve the future of our beloved franchise in Charm City.”

Major League Baseball team owners voted in 2020 to approve John Angelos as a “control person” for the Orioles, meaning he is responsible for the team. The approval signaled an official transition from the leadership of Peter Angelos, now 92, whose health has declined over the years.

Louis Angelos’ attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, in his own statement, challenged John Angelos’ description of how he reached his current role with the team.

“I am shocked by John’s statement,” said Nusinov. “Peter Angelos did not hijack John as a controlling person, chairman, CEO or any other title.”

The lawsuit seeks to remove John and his mother, Georgia Angelos, as co-trustees of the trust in which the Orioles were placed, and remove them as co-agents of Peter Angelos’ power of attorney.

The Orioles’ original lease with the state for Oriole Park at Camden Yards began on April 1, 1992, and was to expire at the end of 2021. The parties agreed in February 2021 to extend the agreement for two years until December 31, 2023. , with the club retaining the right for a five-year extension at one time, until 1 February 2023.

Kelso, an investment banker appointed to the stadium authority’s chairmanship by Governor Larry Hogan in 2015, said the two sides to the lease are in a “deliberative” phase with stadium enhancement projects being developed and vetted. Changes could include more social spaces, fewer seats and a sports betting area, according to the team.

While it is not certain whether any new leases will have a non-transfer clause, the stadium authority said in a statement to The Sun that “clauses similar to the one in our existing lease are common to such agreements.” If the club was sold, any new owner would be bound by the terms of the lease, according to the stadium authority.

But signing a new lease that commits the team to Baltimore for a few years could reduce the team’s price in any potential sale, experts have said.

Any new lease would need to be approved by the Public Works Board, which is made up of the governor, state treasurer and state controller.

Hogan, a Republican spokesman, did not return messages Monday to comment on whether he would require a non-transfer clause in any leases, but a spokesman for Democratic State Controller Peter Franchot said he would This will be the case.

“The controller will absolutely require that those terms be in any new lease,” Franchot spokeswoman Susan O’Brien said in an interview.

Franchot is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor this year; Hogan cannot walk again because of the time limit.

Democratic state treasurer Derek Davis declined to comment, with his office saying in a statement: “The treasurer said he does not believe it is appropriate to comment piecemeal at this time. Once the Stadium Authority and the Orioles reach an agreement, When reached, he said that he can take an informed decision about what is in the best interest of the state.”

Baltimore has wanted to keep their teams close since the NFL’s Colts – in a dispute with the city over improvements to the former Memorial Stadium – left town for Indianapolis on a March night in 1984. The city also fought to preserve the Preakness Stakes in the Pimlico Race. syllabus.

While John Angelos has repeatedly stated that the Orioles will not leave town, he has remained silent about the potential sale. With Peter Angelos facing health issues in recent years, rumors have long circulated that the family may be selling. A family trust holds Peter Angelos’ assets, including his majority stake in the team and millions of dollars in real estate.

Louis Angelos’ lawsuit states that with Peter Angelos “no longer able to manage his affairs,” his wife determined that it was in the best interest of the trust to sell the Orioles. But, according to the suit, John Angelos stalled and thwarted plans to sell the team — valued at $1.37 billion by Forbes — torpedoing, according to the lawsuit, interest from “a highly credible group of buyers.”

John Angelos did not return text messages for further comment on Monday.

In 2020, the stadium authority began a study of changes to keep the Orioles happy and stadium funding in Baltimore.

Under the new approach, approved by the General Assembly this spring and signed into law by Hogan, the stadium authority could borrow up to $1.2 billion to fund stadium improvements – $600 million each for the Orioles and Ravens. But no bond can be issued without a lease, and the lease must be long enough to pay off the longest-term bond.

No matter who owns the club, Stadium Authority officials believe Major League Baseball owners will be hesitant to approve a team transfer when Kelso is at ease for “frequent and constant reinvestment”. There is a pool of available public funds.

Any transfer would require the approval of 24 of the 30 club owners. And relocations are so rare that there has only been one move in the past 50 years – when Montreal became citizens of Washington at Expo 2005.

“By doing it this way, the state is telling teams, ‘There is money available to improve these iconic sports venues, but in order to access these funds, the teams need to be in the city until the bond is paid off. Full payment is not made.” Alan Rifkin, a longtime former attorney for the Orioles, said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Baltimore Sun journalists Hayes Gardner, Andy Kostka and Jean Marbella contributed to this article.

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