Wes Moore: Orioles lease a win for Maryland | GUEST COMMENTARY

Wes Moore: Orioles lease a win for Maryland | GUEST COMMENTARY

I remember the first time I brought my son and daughter to Camden Yards. I can still feel the magic of watching them cheer for their favorite team, screaming “Let’s Go O’s!” I can see their smiles and the smiles of Marylanders from all backgrounds, who shared one hope: to watch the home team pull out another win.

I’ve always imagined that years from now, my children might return to Camden Yards with their children and make memories of their own. Now, they can — and hundreds of thousands of other families can, too. The historic lease agreement we’ve signed between the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Baltimore Orioles will keep baseball in Baltimore for years to come (“State boards approve Orioles lease with 2 weeks to spare, ending ‘uncertainty’ of negotiations,” Dec. 18).

From day one, lease negotiations centered on three goals. First and foremost, we had to show a commitment to using taxpayer money responsibly. Second, we wanted to strike an agreement that creates winners on and off the field. Third, we had to keep the Orioles in Baltimore for the long term. Our final deal reflects all three priorities.

The Orioles have signed a lease extension for 30 years. The magnitude of that achievement cannot be overstated, especially in light of recent history. In the past, when negotiations became difficult, the state took the easy route of settling for a short-term deal. I would not accept that. We needed to ensure predictability for the city, the state, the fans and the business community.

Predictability isn’t just an asset, it’s a necessity. By keeping the Orioles at Camden Yards for the long run — regardless of ownership structure — we’ve sent a clear message to the private sector: Investing in Baltimore is a winning strategy. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a crown jewel of the city, and downtown businesses will draw the attention of hundreds of thousands of fans who flock to the stadium each year. Baltimore was just ranked one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation, and this deal further accelerates growth downtown and throughout the city.

In the coming years, we plan to pursue a development agreement with partners in the public and private sectors to reimagine areas around the ballpark. Together, we are striving to build a live-work-play environment where entrepreneurs can thrive, minority-owned businesses can find a long-term home, Marylanders can access everything they need within a single district and our tax base is strong.

Imagine waking up in a downtown apartment, walking over to your job a few blocks away, grabbing a bite to eat at a great local restaurant and closing out the day by crossing the street and seeing the Orioles beat the Yankees. This is the Baltimore we want to build — and we are going to build it in partnership.

No one deal has the power to manifest the full promise of our vision. But the final lease agreement between the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Orioles marks an important step toward our broader aims.

Most importantly, this final deal achieves our goal of getting taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck. The state will make strategic investments to upgrade and improve Oriole Park while maintaining strict control and oversight of those funds. And once a development agreement is approved, new lease terms will take effect that save Marylanders tens of millions of dollars by making the Orioles pay their fair share of ballpark maintenance.

I know this process has been long. I know there have been ups and downs. Major decisions of generational significance aren’t given, they’re earned. But here’s the bottom line: We worked together to strike a good deal that delivers for Marylanders.

We wouldn’t be here without the collaboration of Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman Craig Thompson, the Orioles leadership, my colleagues on the Board of Public Works and the Maryland General Assembly, key stakeholders in Baltimore City, partners in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office and all of the members of our administration. An agreement this big takes a big team to get it done, and Team Maryland stands more united than ever.

This deal makes me proud — not just as the governor of our state, but also as a lifelong fan of the team we all love. Today, I’m thinking about the current and future Marylanders who will benefit from this enormous win. Camden Yards is more than a ballpark, it’s a piece of Maryland’s identity. Together, we’ve protected that legacy for this generation — and the next one.

Let’s go O’s!

— Wes Moore, Annapolis

The writer, a Democrat, is governor of Maryland.

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

Leave a Message