Things keep falling into place at Camden Yards. There is a bit of symmetry to it all. The unexpected signing of a 30-year lease on the new ballpark by the Orioles followed on the heels of the anticipated but still suddenly concluded signing of Cal Ripken Jr. to a five-year contract that in effect keeps him an Oriole for the duration of his career. There are also auguries of change at the top of the Orioles organization.
The final version of the Orioles' lease is welcome news. This lease locks the team here for as far ahead as most people can reasonably plan -- and for longer than most baseball leases. The term coincides with the payoff period on the bonds floated by the Maryland Stadium Authority to construct the ballpark.
Two elements of the new lease are of particular interest, and both of them are welcome. The profit-sharing option for payment of rent obtained by the late owner Edward Bennett Williams has been dropped, leaving the conventional formula for divvying up fixed percentages of various sources of income at the ballpark. This will give the state a more predictable income from the rent, in contrast to the large swings in revenue that marked the Orioles' last years at Memorial Stadium. And it will eliminate the unseemly squabbling over what is a proper business expense to deducted before profits are calculated. Now expenses will be solely the Orioles' business, as they should be, and revenue will be the only factor of interest to the state and the public.