The Angelos family plans to sell the Orioles to a group led by two private equity billionaires, David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group and Mike Arougheti of Ares Management Corp., as first reported by Sportico and John Ourand of Puck News. Andy Kostka, Pamela Wood and Danielle Allentuck of the Baltimore Banner report that various others will have smaller ownership roles — including franchise icon Cal Ripken Jr.
Neither the Orioles nor MLB have yet commented on the news. The deal cannot be made official without league approval. Longtime O’s beat reporter Dan Connolly tweets that the owners will discuss the sale agreement at a previously scheduled owners meeting next week.
It was reported back in December that Rubenstein, a Baltimore native, was in talks to purchase the club. Rubenstein will eventually become the franchise’s “control person” assuming the deal is approved. Ourand reports the sale price will be $1.725 billion, about 10 times the $173MM for which the Angelos family purchased it in 1993.
The franchise will not be sold in its entirety right away. According to Ourand, the Rubenstein group will initially acquire roughly 40% of the ownership stake. The remainder of the Angelos’ family share will be transferred once longtime owner Peter Angelos, now 94, passes away. Previous reports have indicated the family would incur significant capital gains taxes if they sell the franchise in its entirety before Peter Angelos’ death.
It could be a franchise-altering piece of news for the Orioles and their fans. The Angelos family has owned the club since 1993. It was at that time that Peter Angelos was the principal investor of a group that bought the O’s. He collapsed in 2017 due to the failure of his aortic valve, leading his wife Georgia and sons John and Lou to take on more sizeable roles.
Reports emerged in June of 2022, highlighting infighting between the family members about control of the franchise. The league evidently approved John Angelos as the club’s “control person” in 2020, but multiple lawsuits between the family members were filed. The reporting surrounding those legal disputes revealed that Georgia hired Goldman Sachs to explore a possible sale. The various family lawsuits were dropped about a year ago as part of a reported settlement. “I would say that there’s not a plan to change the principal ownership or the managing partnership and there would be no reason to,” John said in February of last year.
As that drama has been playing out behind the scenes, there has also been a lot of public uncertainty surrounding the organization. Their lease agreement with the State of Maryland for Camden Yards was set to expire at the end of 2023. John Angelos was reportedly attempting to leverage the negotiations for a new lease to acquire public land. The idea seemed to be to transform the area based on the example set by the Braves with The Battery and Truist Park, allowing the O’s to develop a mixed-use area including various retail and commercial spaces.
A new lease agreement was eventually approved in mid-December, just before the previous deal was set to expire. As part of that deal, the O’s are committed to Camden Yards for the next 15 years, which can be expanded to 30 years if a new development plan is approved in the next four years. The discussions between Rubenstein and the Angelos family briefly held up government approval of the new lease. At the time, John Angelos reportedly assured Maryland governor Wes Moore there were no plans to sell a majority share of the franchise. That now seems set to change.
On top of the stadium situation, the Orioles and Nationals have an ongoing dispute concerning the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. The two clubs share ownership of the network but with the O’s in the majority, presently around 76% and dropping to 67% by 2032. Those details were part of the agreement between the O’s and MLB to facilitate the relocation of the Expos from Montreal to Washington and therefore into the Orioles’ territorial range. The two clubs have been battling each other over the rights free related to MASN for many years.
Jeff Barker of the Baltimore Sun reports that Rubenstein will also acquire the O’s share in MASN. It’s not yet clear if there’ll be any change in the relationship between the Orioles and the Nationals.
Then there’s the on-field product, which could perhaps be related to the ownership situation. The club has been rebuilding for much of the period after Peter Angelos’ health issues, but they quite clearly emerged from that rebuild in recent seasons. They posted terrible results from 2018 to 2021 but stockpiled young talent in the process. As their young players started graduating to the majors, they managed to go 83-79 in 2022. They followed that up with a 101-win campaign last year, winning the American League East.
Despite those better results of late, the club has made almost no moves that commit long-term money or give up their young talent in order to bolster the current roster. Their stacked farm system has led to plenty of speculation about a blockbuster deal involving someone like Dylan Cease, but nothing has materialized. Meanwhile, their free agent spending this winter has been limited to a one-year deal for reliever Craig Kimbrel.
Taken all together, there are plenty of questions to be answered about how the franchise will proceed. While many O’s fans will be happy to see the Angelos family depart, it’s unknown how different the new regime will be. If the deal is completed, a picture of the future for the franchise will gradually come into focus. As it does, it could have ramifications for the team and others such as the Nats, as well as the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland.
Rubenstein, 74, is the co-founder and co-chairman of the Carlyle Group, a private equity company. He was born in Baltimore and Forbes estimates his net worth as $3.7 billion.