The Angelos are reportedly selling the Orioles to a group led by two private equity billionaires, David Rubinstein of Carlyle Group and Mike Arugetti of Ares Management, according to reports from Sportico And John Aurand of Book News. It was reported last December that Rubinstein, a Baltimore native, was in talks to buy the club. The club is said to be worth $1.725 billion, about 10 times the $173 million it was purchased for in 1993.
This is a developing story and there will certainly be many complex details to work out, but it could be franchise-changing news for the Orioles and their fans. The Angelos family has owned the club since 1993. In that time Peter, now 94, was the lead investor for the group that bought the O's. He collapsed in 2017 due to his aortic valve failure, prompting his wife George and sons John and Lou to take on bigger roles.
Reports emerged in June of 2022, highlighting an internal dispute between family members over control of the club. The league apparently approved John as the “controlling person” of the club in 2020, but multiple lawsuits have been filed between family members. Reports surrounding those legal disputes revealed that Georgia had hired Goldman Sachs to explore the possibility of selling the club. Various family lawsuits were dropped about a year ago as part of the reported settlement. “I would say there is no plan to change the main ownership or management partnership and there would be no reason to,” John said in February last year.
As this drama was going on behind the scenes, there was also a lot of public uncertainty surrounding the club. The lease agreement with the state of Maryland for Camden Yards was set to expire at the end of 2023, and John Angelos was reportedly trying to take advantage of negotiations for a new lease to acquire the public lands. The idea appears to be to transform the area based on the example the Braves set with The Battery and Truist Park, allowing the O's to develop a mixed-use area including various retail and commercial spaces.
A new lease agreement was eventually approved in mid-December, just before the previous deal expired. As part of the deal, the O's are committed to Camden Yards for the next 15 years, which could be expanded to 30 years if a new development plan is approved in the next four years.
Furthermore, the Orioles and Nationals have an ongoing dispute over MASN. The two clubs share ownership of the network but with the O's having the majority, currently about 76% and falling to 67% by 2032. These details were part of the agreement between the O's and MLB to facilitate the Expos' relocation from Montreal to Washington and thus into the Orioles' territorial reach. The two clubs have been fighting over free rights to MASN for many years.
Then there's the field product, which may also be tied to ownership status. The club has been rebuilding for most of the period following Peter's health problems, but it is quite clear that they have fallen out of that rebuilding process in recent seasons. They recorded terrible results from 2018 to 2021 but stockpiled young talent in the process. As their young players began to graduate to the major leagues, they went 83-79 in 2022. They followed that up with a 101-win campaign in 2023, winning the American League East.
Despite those better recent results, the club has made almost no moves to commit long-term money or offload its young talent in order to bolster the current roster. Their stacked farm system has led to a lot of speculation about a huge deal involving someone like him Dylan stopped, but nothing was achieved. Meanwhile, free agent spending was limited to a one-year deal for the reliever Craig Kimbrell.
Taken together, there are a lot of questions to be answered about how the franchise will continue. While many O's fans will be happy to see the Angelos family leave, it is unknown how different the new regime will be. If the deal is completed, the future of the franchise will gradually come into focus. In this case, it could have ramifications for the team and others like the Nats, as well as the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.
Rubinstein, 74, is co-founder and co-president of The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. Born in Baltimore and Forbes His net worth is estimated at $3.7 billion.
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