B A L T M O R E, July 18, 2000 -- The Baltimore Orioles could be headed down awell-traveled road — selling their ballpark’s name to a corporatesponsor.
They have spent eight years in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Butnow, with baseball’s fourth-highest payroll, they are exploringways to raise money as they enter arbitration with the MarylandStadium Authority, owner of the stadium.
The Baltimore Ravens paid the stadium authority $10 million forthe naming rights for their new stadium, then earned $105.5 millionover 20 years in their deal with the computer services firm PSINet.The Ravens’ contract also included sports marketing agreements thattake advantage of the PSINet’s tech-related businesses.
Ballpark Built Before Buyouts
The Orioles, whose ballpark was built just before theproliferation of stadium renaming in the mid-1990s, have wished forthat kind of deal. Now, as negotiations with the stadium authoritynear, the team believes it is in a good bargaining position.
“We believe we deserve the same lease rights the Ravens weregranted,” Orioles lawyer Alan Rifkin said.
The matter is still months from being heard, however, and couldtake much longer to resolve.
Alison Asti, general counsel for the stadium authority, said ifthe agency is approached by the team, it will consider both thegood will built up in the name and the economic benefit.
The Board of Public Works would also have to approve a change.
The Camden Yards complex cost more than $500 million. But rentthe Orioles paid last year fell about $1 million short of theapproximately $7.5 million in operating and maintenance costs atthe ballpark.
About a dozen fans said after Sunday’s game with the FloridaMarlins they would be disappointed if the name changed, though fewsaid they would be surprised.
“Corporate sponsorships are as much a part of Major League ballas peanuts and popcorn,” said 32-year-old Mike Barb of Baltimore.“It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.”