Maryland Stadium Authority Working To Keep Ravens And Orioles In Baltimore

Posted on February 3, 2022 - Last Updated on February 18, 2022

The Maryland Stadium Authority is working to ensure that two key aspects of the Maryland sports betting market stay within MD borders.

The MSA is looking to borrow up to $1.2 billion to use on the home of two Baltimore pro sports teams.

One stadium is Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which is home to MLB’s Baltimore Orioles. The other is the Baltimore Raven‘s NFL home, M&T Bank Stadium.

The Maryland Stadium Authority needs approval from state legislators to increase the allowable bond debt, according to the Baltimore Sun. The reason for the increase? To have the ability to upgrade the stadiums.

Maryland Stadium Authority and sportsbooks on same page

Retail sports betting kicked off in Maryland in December. Five casinos in Maryland now offer in-person sports wagering.

However, the real boom for the burgeoning market should come later this year, ideally in time for the start of the 2022-23 NFL season. That’s when Maryland’s online sports betting market should formally launch.

Once it does, it could become of the country’s bigger markets. After promising results with the limited retail launch in December, the market could have more than a hundred sportsbooks of all sorts once online betting is underway.

Of course, one reason industry observers have high exceptions for Maryland sports betting is because of the pro teams in the state. In states with rabid fan bases, sports betting is usually a popular activity.

The Ravens and Orioles are obviously Maryland’s most prominent franchises (the Washington Commanders also play in MD but are technically Virginia-based).

That’s why the Maryland Stadium Authority’s funding plans are likely music to the ears of current and future sports-betting operators. And though the government agency doesn’t count sports-betting initiatives among its primary concerns, the MSA and sportsbook operators obviously have shared interests in this regard.

MSA being proactive with funding request

The Maryland Stadium Authority, which the state founded in 1986, works to support and preserve sports venues in Maryland. But the group has also worked with public and private organizations on attractions central to Maryland:

  • Campus centers
  • Convention centers
  • Museums
  • Parks
  • Theaters

No projects are more vital than Oriole Park at Camden Yards (built in 1992) and M&T Bank Stadium (built in 1998), though.

That’s why officials are looking for state approval to borrow up to $1.2 billion for stadium upgrades. It’s not just about improving the facilities; it’s about extending the life of the stadiums, officials say. Additionally, it’d show the Ravens and the Orioles some good faith as lease talks continue with both teams.

After all, the two stadiums cost about $350 million total to build (in 2022 dollars). That’s modest by today’s sports-venue standards. That’s why the upgrades could eclipse the original cost.

As MSA Chairman Thomas Kelso told the Baltimore Sun:

“The longer we can extend the life of these stadiums, the better it is for Baltimore City, Maryland and the teams, and that’s part of the goal here. … The way people watch sports continues to morph from more traditional ‘buy a ticket and sit in a seat’ to something that’s completely different. And our teams need to have that flexibility.”

The MSA will soon introduce a bill in the Maryland House of Delegates. If lawmakers approve it, it would boost the allowable bond debt for the stadium projects fivefold – from $235 million to $1.2 billion. Up to $600 million could be earmarked for each stadium. Lotto proceeds would help pay the debt service on the bonds.

The money would be used for stadium upgrades and enhancements. They could include premium seating options, social spaces, and even a dedicated sportsbook space.

Photo by AP / Patrick Semansky
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