That agreement with the Maryland Stadium Authority gives the Orioles a choice of paying rent by a profit-sharing formula or by an arrangement that would entitle the state to a percentage of team revenues such as ticket sales and parking. Under the second option, the team's operating profit would be diminished by the management fee, but the rent wouldn't.
Management fees are just one of the ways owners can increase income from their teams. When Mr. Williams owned the Orioles, he hired one of the country's leading law firms -- his own. In 1988, for example, the Williams & Connolly firm billed the Orioles $243,000.
If the October budget projections prove accurate, the Orioles will be among the top money-generating teams in baseball.
"It moves them a long way from where they've been. If not into the top five, then getting close," said Sam Katz of Public Financial Management, a Philadelphia-based firm that helped to create the financial plan of bonds and lottery tickets that is paying for Camden Yards.
The top teams tend to be franchises in major cities -- New York, Chicago and Los Angeles -- where they can command lucrative local television contracts. That has created huge disparities. The New York Yankees signed a 12-year local television deal reportedly worth $500 million. On a yearly basis, that's about five times what the Orioles expect to get from WMAR and Home Team Sports, the documents show.
"Baltimore has almost no broadcast revenues -- they're near the bottom of the pack," Mr. Katz said.
Where the Orioles can compete with the bigger-city teams is in tickets and concessions.
The Orioles expected those revenues to increase by more than $10 million, according to the October budget. Even those lofty projections, based on the sale of 3 million tickets, now appear to be conservative. Riding a string of 13 consecutive sellouts (through Friday night's game), the Orioles seem headed for ticket sales closer to 3.56 million. That could bring in yet another $4 million to $5 million.
The Orioles projected higher ticket revenues, even though there are4,000 fewer seats at the new stadium than at Memorial Stadium. The team would make up the difference by selling more tickets and, in most cases, charging higher prices, the budget prepared in October shows.
Last year, the average cost of a purchased ticket was $7.07. This year, it's projected to be $9.78, according to the document.
The high attendance also could boost revenue from ballpark food and novelties an additional $1.4 million. No chance is missed to get people eating at Camden Yards. There are food stands serving up the old stadium standbys, air-conditioned deli bars that offer freshly carved sandwiches and mixed drinks, and even waitress service on the club level for fans who don't mind paying extra for delivery to their seats.
The Orioles get a cut of virtually every dollar spent on food, drinks and novelty items. The share is 45 percent for hot dogs, beer and other goodies bought in the grandstands and from vendors. On the club level, where tickets cost as much as $25, the Orioles' share drops to 30 percent for many items. And when fans in the stadium's 72 sky boxes order a shrimp cocktail, 25 percent of the bill goes to the team.
If that sounds like a deal too good to pass up, Mr. Jacobs reportedly has said he might be interested in selling the team if the offer was right. His asking price: $200 million.