Maryland Senate president voices concern over O's lease framework

The president of Maryland's state Senate expressed concerns Friday about tying the Baltimore Orioles' new lease at Camden Yards to an agreement on development near the ballpark.

A spokesman for Gov. Wes Moore said the administration will work to address those concerns, with less than a month remaining before the team's current lease expires.

The Orioles' lease expires at the end of the year. In September, the team dramatically announced a new 30-year deal to stay at Camden Yards -- a message to that effect appeared on the scoreboard in the middle of a game the night the team clinched the AL East. The following day, the governor's office released details of a memorandum of understanding involving Moore, the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority, but it's not clear when the deal will be finalized and approved.

The September agreement included a 99-year development rights agreement for areas surrounding the ballpark, including the warehouse and Camden Station. That now appears to be a sticking point for Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat.

"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. "This is more relevant today, as recent news has heightened uncertainties about the future ownership of the team."

Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing unidentified sources, that Carlyle Group Inc. co-founder David Rubenstein has been in talks to acquire the Orioles. The team did not respond to a message seeking comment, and a spokesman for Rubenstein declined comment.

"Let's secure a long-term lease, agree to future discussions about development around the facility, and give Orioles fans what they deserve: certainty and a winning team," Ferguson said.

David Turner, a communications director and senior adviser to Moore, said the administration understands Ferguson's concerns.

"The governor has made it clear he wants to work in partnership and move forward together," Turner said. "While President Ferguson expressed support for a majority of the deal, he stated his principled disagreement on the framework of the proposed ground lease, and as a result the administration will continue to work to address those concerns with the stadium agreement that the Maryland Stadium Authority, the Moore-Miller administration, and the Baltimore Orioles have put forth."