Orioles' admissions tax and rent top $9 million

March 06, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

The Orioles, still riding a wave of record crowds and high profits at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, have paid rent exceeding $5 million for the second time in the history of the baseball club.

The team recently submitted its second and final payment for the 1993 season to the Maryland Stadium Authority, bringing its rent for last year to $5.03 million.

That figure is higher than rent paid in 1992, the inaugural year of the Camden Yards ballpark, and ranks second only to the 1989 payment, when accounting issues related to the sale of the team pushed the rent at Memorial Stadium to $5.2 million.

In addition to the rent, the Orioles paid admissions tax of $4.2 million, making 1993 the first time in the Orioles' 40-year history that the combined rent and admissions tax payments topped $9 million.

The 10 percent tax is shared by the state and the city, with the state getting 8 percent and the city, 2 percent.

"Some have referred to the Orioles ballpark lease as liberal. I haven't studied it, but $9 million is obviously a substantial expenditure for the Orioles organization," said Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos.

The Orioles have said previously that their rent at Camden Yards is among the highest paid by any baseball franchise. Not all teams reveal their payments, but one, the San Francisco Giants, paid rent of about $925,000 in 1992 to play at Candlestick Park.

Mr. Angelos, a Baltimore lawyer who led the investors who bought the team last October, said the Orioles' rent payment would have a bigger impact on the team than in past years, in part because of higher player salaries and shrinking revenues from baseball's national television contract.

Orioles player salaries, mostly because of Mr. Angelos' aggressive off-season pursuit of free agents, increased about $8 million this year. The network TV deal will be worth about $8 million less for each major-league team this year than in 1993.

"Absent those two factors, the level of rent would not be so burdensome," Mr. Angelos said yesterday.

The higher salaries and lower TV revenue, although likely to cut ++ deeply into Orioles operating profits in 1994, did not affect the club's prosperity last year. For 1993, the Orioles ranked among the most prosperous of the 28 major-league teams, mostly on the strength of record home attendance of 3.6 million.

Mr. Angelos has said he will release the team's operating profits for 1993, which have been estimated at $25 million. Last week, the owner did divulge some of the team's revenues for 1993, including its share of money from sales, ranging from tickets to ballpark billboards.

Those figures must be submitted to the stadium authority under the rent agreement between the team and the state. That agreement calls for the Orioles to pay rent based on a percentage of their revenues, including 50 percent of net parking, 7 percent of the team's net ticket receipts and 6.67 percent of food sold in the stadium cafeteria and deli bars.

nTC The figures released by the Orioles show net ticket receipts at $29.6 million. That is up slightly from 1992, and a huge increase over money the Orioles collected from ticket sales during their years at Memorial Stadium. In 1991, their final year at Memorial Stadium, the Orioles' ticket sales netted them $13.9 million.

The Orioles' rent could be adjusted slightly in coming months. The stadium authority will apply the Orioles' rent to its expenses for running the Camden Yards stadium. Last year, operating expenses were about $6 million, and the stadium authority's administrative budget was an additional $1.2 million.

The state also is making payments on the 30-year revenue bonds that paid for construction of the state-financed ballpark. For 1993, those costs are $13.6 million. That debt will be paid mostly with proceeds from the state's instant lottery games.

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