The Orioles keep on surprising us, off the field as well as on. Just as we were getting accustomed to a trend-setting ballpark filled to capacity every game with a long, secure 15-year lease, the Orioles double its term. Not to mention sign a lease with the Maryland Stadium Authority that is so detailed it fills 158 pages, not counting eight exhibits and a 14-page index. No wonder it took four years.
The news could hardly be better for Orioles fans. The prospect that any future owner, even the reincarnation of Bob Irsay, would have tried to move the team elsewhere while it was getting such overwhelming support, even in 14 years, was extremely unlikely. But the fans have made their pact with the Orioles by flocking to Camden Yards in record numbers, and the club has made its pact with the fans and the community by agreeing to a 30-year lease.
Baseball fans are not the only beneficiaries of the new lease. The community as a whole, and football fans in particular, come out ahead. The lease coincides with the lives of the bonds that financed the ballpark, further reinforcing their repayment. By discarding the novel but troublesome profit-sharing formula devised by Edward Bennett Williams, the state is assured of a fairly predictable schedule of rental payments that are independent of Orioles' decisions on what expenses are deductible. And abandonment of the profit-sharing relieves the Orioles of the obligation to disclose financial information that, the lease makes clear, it still devoutly wants to keep private.