Maryland lines up $1.2bn plan for Orioles, Ravens stadia

Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA), the entity which oversaw the development and now manages and maintains the homes of NFL franchise the Baltimore Ravens and MLB team Baltimore Orioles, is seeking state legislative approval to borrow up to $1.2bn (£884.4m/€1.04bn) to pay for renovation work at the two venues.

The MSA, which was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1986 to build, manage, and maintain facilities to retain an MLB team in Maryland and return the NFL to the state, said its request reflects a determination to demonstrate to the two franchises their commitment to keeping them in Baltimore, amid ongoing lease deal talks.

“The longer we can extend the life of these stadiums, the better it is for Baltimore City, Maryland and the teams, and that’s part of the goal here,” Thomas Kelso, the Authority’s chairman, told the Baltimore Sun.

The newspaper said a bill drafted by MSA and expected to be introduced soon in the Maryland House of Delegates would raise the allowable bond debt for stadium projects from $235m to $1.2bn. Up to $600m in outstanding debt would be allowed for development work at each club’s stadium at any given time.

The legislation would gradually increase the level of state lottery revenue that can be harnessed to pay debt service on the bonds — from $20m to up to $90m per year. However, the legislation requires the teams to sign a lease long enough to pay off the bonds.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in April 1992, while M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Ravens, saw the franchise move into the stadium when it opened in 1998. M&T Bank Stadium is located just down the road from Oriole Park.

With stadium developments continuing apace in the NFL and MLB, the MSA believes it needs to keep up with what is being offered elsewhere. Kelso added: “The way people watch sports continues to morph from more traditional ‘buy a ticket and sit in a seat’ to something that’s completely different. And our teams need to have that flexibility.”

In February 2021, the Orioles reached an agreement with the MSA to continue playing at Oriole Park until at least 2023. The MSA approved an amendment to the lease agreement to extend the team’s stay until December 31, 2023. The Orioles have the right to exercise a one-time, five-year extension by February 1, 2023.

The Ravens’ current lease deal expires following the 2027 NFL season, with the team and MSA said to be in preliminary talks over an extension.

Image: Maryland Stadium Authority