In 1982, at Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams' request, the club quit paying the city a percentage of the gate receipts to lease Memorial Stadium and began a profit-sharing arrangement.
Why this novel arrangement? "The people of Baltimore will feel they have a much more tangible interest in the team," said Mr. Williams. He said it would "cement" the club's relationship to the city. Also, especially as payrolls and other expenses began to soar in the 1980s, it was conceivable under the traditional receipts-percentage arrangement that a team might draw well at the gate and still not make a profit. Thus a team could owe a bigger rental fee to the city than it felt it could afford.
So the new lease arrangement was in both parties' best interest.
As events turned out, there have been both fat and lean years. Two seasons produced no profits for the city to share; the Orioles got the stadium free. One year the city got only $33,365, a small fraction of what a standard percent-of-gate lease would have brought. But in 1989, when attendance soared to 2.5 million and other revenues also rose, the city got $5.2 million. Last year the city would have received even more, but the Orioles somehow convinced the city to calculate profits in an imaginative new way, reducing the city share to $1.8 million.