Nashville Orioles? Baltimore needs a local buyer to step up to the plate

BALTIMORE — These summer nights are bleak at Oriole Park, as witness Saturday night’s 23-to-2 loss to Houston. But the future’s a deeper concern. Reliable sources say we might be headed toward the end of the Angelos era.

These sources say principle owner Peter Angelos’ family has held extensive discussions about selling the team they’ve controlled for the past quarter-century. The same sources say Angelos’ sons, John and Lou, lean toward a sale.

There are complications. At 90, Peter Angelos’ health is fragile, and he’s no longer active in Orioles’ matters or his law office. His sons have assumed their father’s old responsibilities.

In Peter Angelos’ absence, though, principle ownership of the club would go to his wife, Georgia, who is reported these days to be consumed with caring for her husband.

Peter Angelos

If the family were to sell, that means another complication: Would they sell to local investors, or to out-of-town owners who might move the team? The lease on Oriole Park, which helps tie the team to Baltimore, ends in 2021.

One rumor has the family retaining ownership but the club moving to Nashville, where John Angelos and his wife have one of their homes. That rumor takes on legitimacy mainly because of sinking attendance at Oriole Park.

But knowledgeable sources say the family would much rather sell – and keep the club in Baltimore, if a local buyer can be found.

Among potential Baltimore buyers whose names have surfaced: David Smith, executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group; Raymond “Chip” Mason, founder and former chairman and CEO of the Legg Mason investment group; Jim Davis, founder of the Allegis Group staffing company, whose cousin is Ravens owner Steve Biscotti.

The Orioles are having a problem filling the stands. (Anthony C. Hayes)

Also mentioned are Ted Venetoulis, the former Baltimore County executive, and Bob Embry, president of the Abell Foundation, who joined hands several years ago, bringing together several large foundations in an attempt to buy the Baltimore Sun.

In 1993, Peter Angelos bought the Orioles for $173 million. Minority partners included the late novelist Tom Clancy, movie director Barry Levinson, former tennis star Pam Shriver, and businessman Steve Geppi.

Sources estimate the sale price on today’s team might exceed $1 billion.

Peter Angelos purchased the ballclub at a time when Baltimoreans were still feeling vulnerable over the loss of the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis. When attorney Edward Bennett Williams bought the Orioles from Jerry Hoffberger, owner of National Bohemian Beer, there were fears Williams would move the club to Washington.

When Williams died, the Orioles were bought by venture capitalist Eli Jacobs. Angelos, with deep Baltimore roots, was seen as a local savior with his purchase. Under his ownership, the team has suffered through mostly losing summers, but some playoff years, as well.

In their best attendance years, the Orioles drew nearly 4 million people a year – even when they were losing. Attendance began serious fall-off when major league baseball brought a team back to Washington. This drained off patrons from the D.C. suburbs who had made the Orioles their “home” team in the years when Washington had no team.

Since the Nationals started playing, in 2005, Orioles’ attendance has steadily slipped. Of 15 American League teams, the Orioles rank 14th in attendance.

Peter Angelos has always insisted that he’s never taken any money out of the team’s profits. One insider said this week, “Owners don’t make their money until they sell the team.”

Even in the dreariest of seasons, this team could fetch a fortune.

18 thoughts on “Nashville Orioles? Baltimore needs a local buyer to step up to the plate

  • August 18, 2019 at 8:24 PM

    It’s time the Nationals get the money they deserve after being screwed by Angelos on the Masn contract . Angelos is and will be always be a big pos . He pocketed all the money allowed to Maryland in the big cancer lawsuit against big tobacco. He will rot in hell when he leaves earth .

  • August 16, 2019 at 2:18 PM

    Funny how the article doesn’t mention Baltimore’s leading the race to be America’s Murder/Shooting Capital.

  • August 14, 2019 at 12:02 PM

    Calling shenanigans on this. Nashville already spent money on a new ballpark for their long established Triple A team. They’re not going to spend more money on a MLB stadium/team after committing to their Triple A team.

  • August 14, 2019 at 8:29 AM

    You can see the writing on the wall dame thing happened to colts the fans stoped coming the ownership has changed and they would flourish in nashville the exit was done when expos moved to d c a strong group could buy and move the team if a lease is not signed in fee months they are gone

  • August 14, 2019 at 7:32 AM

    Lmao Nashville is a larger city than Baltimore, has a faster growing metro, and a more diverse economy. Can’t afford them? Too funny.

  • August 13, 2019 at 6:35 PM

    Howie in his post speaks the truth. Angelis speaks the truth: the market was split when the Nats cane in. OPACY is still one of the premiere venues in baseball while Nats Park is more sterile. But winning silvers everything. Build a winning team and most ills vanish. Hard to compete on attendance when the team down the road is in the wild card and the O’s are in the hunt for next tear’s #1 draft pick.

  • August 13, 2019 at 6:23 PM

    The fans would come back if the management would put a winner on the field for more that a year or two. Look at Boston, New York and other teams that have continued winning seasons. They put fans in the seats even if they have an off season (Boston).

  • August 13, 2019 at 6:01 PM

    Olesker since fired from the sun and wiz over plagiarism has hated Baltimore ever since

  • August 13, 2019 at 3:35 PM

    Congratulations on the clickbait story.

  • August 13, 2019 at 2:12 PM

    Nashville does not want, can’t afford, and does not have the population to take them.

  • August 13, 2019 at 12:31 PM

    Nashville is not ready for an MLB team. There is not the population or the appetite to build another Stadium 4 years after the fantastic AAA stadium was built. MLS is coming with a new stadium in 2021. I will continue to enjoy coming to Camden for many years ahead (hopefully with a better record).

    Nashville will be a MLB city some day. Go preds.

  • August 13, 2019 at 11:09 AM

    Why not do what Green Bay did with the Packers, Boston did it with the Celtics.
    Please let the Angelos family sell it to the highest bidder which will be Baltimore fans

  • August 13, 2019 at 10:51 AM

    seems like a pretty irresponsible article.

  • August 13, 2019 at 8:52 AM

    The problem is that MLB baseball is not a neutral observer in this. They would love to get the Orioles out of Baltimore so their beloved Nats could have all the territory and all the revenue of a true large market team.

    Many people knew this would happen when MLB moved the Expos down the road, but we kept being reassured by people with “studies” telling us that both teams would thrive and, besides, MLB agreed to the MASN deal; guaranteeing profits for all eternity.

    As soon as the Lerners bought the Nats, MLB worked on helping them break the deal. The betrayal is almost complete.

  • August 13, 2019 at 3:25 AM

    I can’t imagine not having the Orioles in Baltimore!

  • August 12, 2019 at 1:55 PM

    Please dont move the team, it would be a major negative hit to our great city

  • August 12, 2019 at 8:59 AM

    Please don’t let the team move. I have been a loyal fan of the Orioles since 1966.

Comments are closed.