Orioles pay Memorial Stadium tab: $3.95 million

June 30, 1992|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

The Baltimore Orioles, who asked city officials to wait three months for the Memorial Stadium rent, announced yesterday that they paid their bill five days before the extended deadline.

The team's rent for the 1991 season, its last at the city-owned ballpark, was one of the highest ever: $3.95 million.

The Orioles paid more rent only once during their 38 years at the old ballpark, in 1989. That year, the rent was more than $5.1 million, mostly because of financial issues related to the sale of the baseball team.

With their payment last Thursday, the Orioles ended one of the more eventful rent negotiations between the two sides. During early talks, the team asked city officials to put aside the profit-sharing lease and instead offered to pay a lump sum of $3 million. The deal was never completed, for reasons neither side has discussed.

The Orioles also asked for a three-month rent extension. The rent originally was due April 1, but team officials said they needed time because of disruptions caused by the move to Camden Yards. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke approved the interest-free, penalty-free extension. At prevailing rates, $3.95 million invested a 90-day certificate of deposit would accrue interest of about $34,000.

"I am pleased with the amount," Mr. Schmoke said. "While many thought the payment would be approximately $3 million, I thought it would be closer to $4 million. I am pleased that our auditors confirmed that the city was entitled to the higher amount."

The Memorial Stadium rent was calculated using a formula that ties rent to the team's operating profits. It was determined by adding the city's 10 percent admission tax to the Orioles' revenues and then subtracting operating expenses. After that figure is divided in half, the admission tax is subtracted to arrive at the rent.

In addition to rent, the Orioles paid $1.95 million in admission taxes last year. The Orioles consider that tax a form of rent and therefore put their total rent at $5.9 million.

At state-owned Camden Yards, the Orioles can choose from several rent options, including a profit-sharing formula and an arrangement that would require them to pay a percentage of revenues from such things as concessions and parking.

At Memorial Stadium, the Orioles often paid the most in years when attendance was unusually high. That was true in 1989 and also last year, when the team set a home attendance record of 2.55 million.

In a statement yesterday, the Orioles said they may have paid more rent in 1991 "than any other team in Major League Baseball." Team officials concluded that after conducting an informal study of teams and their rents, said spokesman Rick Vaughn.

The statement also included words of praise for city officials from Orioles President Larry Lucchino, who said: "I would like to say publicly it has been a pleasure working with Baltimore City officials over the years."

ORIOLES RENT PAYMENTS

Year.. Attendance.. .. ...Rent.. .. ...Admission... ... ... Total

.... ..... ...... .... ... ... .. ... .. tax ... ... ... ... ...

1982.. 1.6 million... ...--- ---. .. ..$845,659... ... ... $845,659

1983.. 2.0 million... ..$681,199... ..1,513,433... ... .. 2,194,632

2.0 million... .1,131,513... ..1,170,683... ... .. 2,302,196

2.1 million... ...833,433... ..1,254,814... ... .. 2,088,247

2.0 million... ...178,220... ..1,260,428... ... .. 1,438,648

1.8 million... ...--- ---... ..1,171,183... ... .. 1,171,183

1988.. 1.7 million... ... 33,365... ..1,085,134... ... .. 1,118,499

1989.. 2.5 million... .5,178,275... ..1,530,132... ... .. 6,708,407

2.4 million... .1,800,000... ..1,731,217... ... .. 3,531,217

2.55 million.. .3,954,791... ..1,953,974... ... .. 5,908,765

The Memorial Stadium lease, which ties the Orioles to their annual profits, began for the 1982 season.

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