Orioles pay $4.6 million in rent for Camden Yards

January 07, 1993|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

The Orioles, coming off a season of record attendance and operating profits at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, have paid the second-highest rent in the team's 39-year history.

This week, the Maryland Stadium Authority received a check from the team for $4.6 million, authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad said yesterday.

That figure tops the team's rent for all but the 1989 season, when the Orioles paid more than $5.1 million at Memorial Stadium, mostly because of financial issues that year related to the sale of the team.

The rent, which slightly exceeds the Stadium Authority's preseason projections, is the result of the ballpark's highly successful inaugural season, when revenues soared from the booming sales of everything from tickets to souvenir programs.

"It's a reflection of 59 straight sellouts [to end the season] and unprecedented fan support," Mr. Belgrad said.

The rent number could be modified slightly before the books are closed on the prosperous first season. The team, which used some estimated figures to make its payment, now will turn over its financial information to an independent auditor. The Stadium Authority will get that review no later than March 30, according to the 30-year Camden Yards lease. The lease then gives the ballpark landlord the option of hiring its own advisers to check the Orioles' accounting.

In addition to rent, the Orioles also paid admission tax of $3.5 million for the past season, Mr. Belgrad said. The state and city share the 10 percent tax, which is tacked on the price of game tickets. The state receives 8 percent, and the city receives 2 percent.

"The rent payment is tremendous, but so is the ballpark," Orioles President Larry Lucchino said.

This is the first year rent has been calculated by a formula worked out last September by negotiators for the Orioles and for the Stadium Authority.

The agreement ties the Camden Yards rent to money the team collects from a variety of sources, including: 7 percent of the team's net ticket receipts, 6 2/3 percent of food sold in the stadium's cafeteria and deli bars and 1 2/3 percent of tobacco products sold at the ballpark.

The rent formula is different from the agreement between the Orioles and Baltimore officials at Memorial Stadium, where the rent was determined using the team's profits.

The Stadium Authority won't have any trouble finding uses for the millions of dollars it has received from the Orioles. Operating costs for the ballpark last year were roughly $3.2 million, and this year, with the stadium open for 12 months, the authority is budgeting for costs of $5.9 million. Most of the rent money will go toward offsetting those costs, Stadium Authority officials said.

The Stadium Authority also is making payments on the 30-year revenue bonds that financed ballpark construction, site acquisition and demolition. Those costs will be $13.6 million this year and will be paid back with state lottery proceeds, the officials added.

The $4.6 million rent, which betters by $100,000 an estimate included in budget documents prepared by the authority last season, is one of several payments the stadium landlord expects to receive.

The authority also expects an annual $1 million contribution from the city and another $1 million from the Orioles for the team's share of ballpark security expenses and to repay costs of building the stadium's 72 luxury suites.

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