Amid legal battle with brother, Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos says team ‘will never leave’ Baltimore

Amid legal battle with brother, Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos says team ‘will never leave’ Baltimore

In the midst of a lawsuit among members of the Angelos family, Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos issued a statement Monday morning asserting that the club “will never leave” Baltimore.

Louis Angelos, the brother of John, brought a lawsuit against his brother Thursday alleging he was trying to seize control of the team and the rest of his father’s holdings. Their 92-year-old father, Peter, has owned the Orioles for nearly three decades. The suit also named their mother, Georgia Angelos, as a defendant.

The lawsuit included the claim from Louis Angelos that John Angelos would consider moving the team to Tennessee if he gained full control. John Angelos has a home there with his wife, a country music singer-songwriter who owns a Nashville-based entertainment company.

But in Monday’s statement, John Angelos reiterated his stance that the Orioles will remain in Baltimore “as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor.”

”Since I was appointed Chairman and CEO according to my parents’ expressed wishes, and voted as the control person for the team by the 30 Major League Clubs, I have taken significant steps to ensure that our beloved franchise’s future remains in Charm City,” Angelos wrote in the statement that dropped the morning after thousands of Paul McCartney fans attended only the second full-fledged concert in Camden Yards’ history.

Louis Angelos’ attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, fired back Monday, rejecting John Angelos’ statement that he was acting on the “expressed wishes” of his parents.

“I’m shocked by John’s statement. Peter Angelos never approved John as control person, chairman, CEO or any other title John has hijacked,” Nusinov said.

In the statement from John Angelos, he said the Orioles will stay in Baltimore “for generations to come” and noted that two months ago, state lawmakers passed a bill allotting $1.2 billion for improvements to the Camden Yards Sports Complex. That investment can only be accessed if the professional teams sign long-term leases.

”Maryland is committed to keeping our team in this great state, and I am equally committed to keeping the Orioles at the heart of our state,” the statement continued.

Alan Rifkin, a former attorney for the Orioles, said he considered the statement from John Angelos to be “sincere and honest.”

“[John Angelos] has said privately and publicly for many years that the Orioles are a Baltimore civic institution and aren’t going anywhere. He’s been clear and consistent about that,” Rifkin wrote in an email. “And, Camden Yards is such an iconic venue that it’s irreplaceable for MLB. I really don’t think there’s anything to these rumors. I would think that people should be confident in what John has said.”

The Orioles’ lease at Camden Yards includes a clause that prevents the organization from relocating, and the stadium was built to replace Memorial Stadium with the goal of preventing another professional franchise from departing. For some Baltimore fans, a 38-year hangover continues after Baltimore Colts owner Robert Irsay moved the NFL team to Indianapolis in 1984, just months after saying he had no intentions of doing so.

But the lease with the Maryland Stadium Authority for the state-owned ballpark expires at the end of next year, and despite lengthy negotiations, there has yet to be an extension. Although ultimately unlikely, rumors of relocation will likely linger until the lease is extended or a new one is signed.

If a new lease were to include a non-relocation agreement, it would keep the team in Baltimore for the duration of the agreement, regardless of who owns the team.

In the lawsuit, Louis Angelos charges that John Angelos “intends to maintain absolute control over the Orioles to manage, to sell, or, if he chooses, to move to Tennessee without having to answer to anyone.”

An organization headed by former MLB pitcher Dave Stewart is seeking to bring an MLB team to Nashville, but those efforts are focused on attracting an expansion team, not luring away an existing franchise.

Although professional teams sometimes use the threat of relocation as a bargaining chip in financial conversations with public entities, an MLB team actually relocating is incredibly rare. There has only been one MLB relocation in the last 50 years — when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

A potential change in ownership and relocation requires approval from three-quarters of MLB team owners.

In 2020, The Baltimore Sun reported that the owners of major league clubs privately voted to approve John Angelos as the “control person” for the Orioles, signaling the shift in leadership from Peter Angelos to one son.

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The lawsuit contends that John Angelos had already begun to take control of the club after his father collapsed in October 2017 due to a failure of his aortic valve. Although Peter Angelos laid out that his sons would make decisions in tandem, Louis Angelos’ lawsuit argues John Angelos began “reversing his father’s policies, operating in secret and plotting his takeover of his father’s estate,” as well as holding Louis Angelos out of decisions.

One such decision was to prevent the sale of the Orioles. After Peter Angelos was deemed “no longer capable of managing his affairs,” the lawsuit said, his wife, Georgia Angelos, 80, decided that selling the Orioles was in the trust’s best interest. But the lawsuit states that John Angelos blocked those attempts — including interest from “one highly credible group of buyers” — to remain in control of the club himself.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said Friday that in repeated conversations with John Angelos, the Orioles’ CEO has said he plans to keep the team in Baltimore, and John Angelos contended that sentiment again Monday in his statement. “There is nothing uncertain about the future of the Baltimore Orioles,” he wrote.

“I want to assure our Orioles players and coaches, our dedicated front office Senior Leadership Team and staff, and our devoted fans, trusted partners, elected, civic, and non-profit leaders, and our entire community, that the Orioles will never leave,” he stated. “From 33rd Street to Camden Yards, the Birds of Baltimore, the iconic team of Brooks, Earl, Jim, Frank, Cal, and Eddie, will forever remain in the only city that our family and our partnership group has called, or will ever call, home — the finest city and birthplace of our national anthem of which we are enduringly proud and to which we are forever committed.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Jean Marbella contributed to this article.

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