Angelos talks Camden Yards, payroll and more at O's camp

February 19th, 2023

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles chairman/CEO John Angelos and his wife, Margaret Valentine, came to the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Sunday morning to take in the team’s Spring Training workouts and to chat with general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde, among others.

Angelos also held a 37-minute session with the media in which he covered a wide array of topics. Here are five takeaways:

1. A new Camden Yards lease agreement could come by July
Earlier this month, the Orioles issued a joint statement with Maryland Governor Wes Moore announcing a commitment to create a “long-term, multi-decade, public-private partnership” with the Maryland Stadium Authority for Camden Yards. The current lease for the ballpark is set to expire at the end of 2023.

Angelos is anticipating a new lease will be agreed upon earlier than that.

“I would be very disappointed if I’m not able to work with the governor and his team ... to make that happen in the next -- six months? Sooner?” Angelos said. “I mean, I’d love to have that as an All-Star break gift for everybody, really, in the community. There’s just no there there other than we’re going to get that done. And that’s always been one of the things I committed to. I have no intention of not seeing that happen -- and I know the governor and his folks are just as keen on it as we are.”

The team reportedly rejected a one-time, five-year lease extension at the beginning of this month as it continued to try to work out a longer-term agreement. The timing of Moore succeeding Larry Hogan as governor of Maryland last month was also a factor in a new agreement not happening sooner, per Angelos.

“We should do that transparently, we should do that communicatively,” Angelos said. “I didn’t think it would be right to rush something through in the final days of the Hogan administration.”

The O's began playing at Camden Yards in 1992.Peyton Stoike/Baltimore Orioles/MLB Photos

2. Upgrades are in the future plans for Camden Yards
The General Assembly passed legislation last year that will allow a new Camden Yards lease agreement to unlock $600 million to fund upgrades to the ballpark. What does Angelos have in mind for those assets?

Angelos listed behind-the-scenes components (such as boilers and air conditioning), amenities and seating as areas that could be improved. He also expressed a desire to upgrade the audio/video systems and scoreboards, as the ones now at Camden Yards were installed in 2008 and are only the second set in the ballpark’s 31-year history.

“They’re capital replenishments to bring things back up to standard,” Angelos said.

3. Elias and Hyde aren’t going anywhere anytime soon
Elias has declined to discuss his contract status, as well as Hyde’s, numerous times. Angelos took the same stance, but he made it clear the Orioles won’t be needing a new GM or manager in the near future.

“I will tell you guys this -- I’m here for the long haul; Mike is here for the long haul; Brandon is here for the long haul,” Angelos said. “We are all fully vested. We’re not going anywhere. And nobody is a short-timer. Nobody is expiring in a year or two years or anything like that.”

Angelos praised the jobs done by Elias and Hyde (both hired following the 2018 season) in turning around the team and successfully rebuilding the franchise.

4. The team’s payroll could continue to grow in future years
While discussing the organization’s standing, Angelos pointed to Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Milwaukee as small-to-mid-market teams that have had sustained success despite not ranking among the largest payrolls in baseball. He believes there’s a path for the Orioles to do the same.

Angelos said there’s a financial range that Elias and the baseball operations staff operate within. But the chairman/CEO also added the O’s “absolutely have the resources” to raise the payroll and that they “plan to keep moving the payroll up.”

“Could payroll be double or triple what it is -- or could it be over $100 million? Yeah. But we’re not there yet,” Angelos said. “We have a very young team that’s overachieved and overperformed because of the great work of our baseball folks.”

5. No new ownership partners are in the short-term plans
Angelos said there are “absolutely no plans to change the partnership group or to change the managing partnership structure” of the Orioles. While that’s the case, he also indicated there’s an openness to consider having conversations with potential future partners; there just aren’t any that have emerged yet.

“That’s not necessary or required or a requisite, but we’re open to it,” Angelos said. “But there is no plan to change or to transition out of what we have today.”

There’s also no longer a legal battle within the Angelos family, as John, his brother Louis and his mother Georgia dismissed the lawsuit between them earlier this month.

“I think those things are distractions and it’s unfortunate whenever they arise,” Angelos said. “But all good things going forward now -- and I’m really confident in what Mike and Brandon are doing and what the management team’s doing. And I think those things are, as they should be, in the rear-view mirror and receding.”