Maryland Bill Lays Groundwork for Up to $1.2 Billion in Stadium Upgrades at Camden Yards Sports Complex Stadiums

| March 24, 2022 | 0 Comments

A bill called HB896 could lay the groundwork for up to $1.2 billion in future renovations at Camden Yards Sports Complex stadiums Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. The bill, which is moving through the Maryland legislature, looks to raise the debt limit from bonds issued by the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) from $235 million to $1.2 billion.

The Orioles home ballpark of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Ravens home stadium of M&T Bank Stadium would each be eligible for up to $600 million of bond debt for future improvements.

“The Orioles lease expires very soon at the end of 2023, and the Ravens have five more years to go,” MSA Chairman Thomas Kelso told SouthBMore.com. “Over the last three years, MSA Executive Director Michael Frenz and myself have been working together with teams on the most important things to them. No one is going to negotiate with us if we don’t have the money.”

“We have been taking a hard look at the stadiums. They are in really good conditions for their age, but need pretty good reinvestment to extend their lives for as long as possible. It’s better to reinvest in what we have instead of building new stadiums. We think we can prevent that with what we put in this bill,” said Kelso.

Money to pay for debt on new bonds issued would be paid by the State Lottery Fund. The bill also looks to extend the cap of eligible money from the State Lottery Fund from $20 million per year to $90 million per year.

The bill also states the duration of bonds cannot be longer than the duration of a stadium lease with either team.

Any bond money spent on future renovations at the stadiums must be approved by the MSA and budget committees in the Maryland State legislature. The Maryland Board of Public Works must then give final approval.

The bill does not prevent the teams or any third parties from investing in the stadiums. The Ravens have spent a total of approximately $220 million in stadium enhancements at M&T Bank Stadium since 1998.

Kelso said any detailed stadium renovation plans will be put forward by the Ravens or Orioles, and further noted that all improvements will look to improve the fan experience at the stadiums. He said improvements could include video and Wi-Fi improvements so fans can better follow their fantasy teams or adding private clubs, sports bars, and sports betting facilities within the stadiums.

“The idea is to make these stadiums economically-viable 365 days a year,” said Kelso.

He also mentioned better tying Oriole Park at Camden Yards to the Pratt St. Corridor and University of Maryland Baltimore, as well as tying M&T Bank Stadium into the Warner Street District developing south of the stadium.

He said the warehouse could be turned into more of a live/work/play building. He also noted there is the potential for a mixed-used development complex, but noted there still needs to be enough on-site parking available.

HB896 will need to be passed by the Maryland legislature by April 11th at 11:59pm and then signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan. The bill was heard by the Maryland House Appropriations Committee on March 15th.

Govern Hogan has written a letter of support for the bill. Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott has also pledged his support for the bill.

MSA Public Information Officer Rachelina Bonacci told SouthBMore.com said the following in an email today: “MSA was pleased with the enthusiastic support HB 896 Maryland Stadium Authority – Increase of Bond Authorization – Camden Yards received from regional government and business leaders during its hearing before the House Appropriations committee.”

Ravens outgoing President Dick Cass said in January the team is considering upgrades such as “additional lower-bowl premium seating” and possibly a plaza south of the stadium that links it with the Warner Street District.

The Orioles are currently finishing up a $3.5-million project that alters the left field dimensions at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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