BALTIMORE (WJZ) – The Maryland Board of Public Works is paving the way for the Baltimore Orioles to dramatically change the look of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The agency voted on Wednesday to reimburse the Maryland Stadium Authority, which owns the downtown stadium, for the cost of the changes via rent credits over the span of five years.READ MORE: Baltimore By Baltimore Festival Set To Launch In June, Highlighting Local Makers And Artists
The renovations are projected to cost $3.5 million.
Developers plan to remove seating and demolish part of the seating bowl. Their plan calls for the relocation of the left foul pole, the left-field wall and the left-field warning track “to points farther from home plate,” according to the board’s agenda.
They expect the alterations to be completed by March 31, which is opening day at the ballpark. These changes mark the first major modification to the park in 20 years.
Board members voted to reimburse the stadium authority during a zoom meeting on Wednesday. But they didn’t all agree on the plan to proceed.
Maryland State Treasurer Dereck Davis objected to the financial compensation.
“From my reading, there isn’t any type of structural issue or any decay or decline,” he said. “This is a cosmetic request.”READ MORE: Pandemic Highlighted Need To Address Disparities In Minority Access To Mental Health Care, Advocates Sauy
Maryland State Authority Executive Director Michael Frenz defended the credit reimbursement plan—noting that it would create the necessary leverage to negotiate with the baseball team and prevent it from leaving.
“The state portion of these projects will be funded with capital money that will become available upon the execution of a new agreement with the team,” Frenz explained. “In the meantime, this project should improve on-field performance so it should result in some higher level of attendance and higher rent.”
Comptroller Peter Franchot urged his fellow board members to “cut a little slack to the Orioles.” The team’s members have struggled with COVID-19 and performance issues, he said.
“It would just tear my heart out if they somehow decided to move, so I hope that never happens,” Franchot said.
Standing at seven feet tall, the left-field wall is currently 333 feet down the left-field line and 364 feet away in left-center. The wall will be pushed back as much as 30 feet at points and grow five feet taller by the start of the 2022 season.
The rent credits would be available in 2022 and 2023. They would cover “up to one-fifth of the cost of the Left Field Project,” per the Board of Public Works.MORE NEWS: President Biden Sends Off Naval Academy's Graduating Class Of 2022
Additional rent credits would be made available to the Orioles if they continue to occupy the park in 2024, 2025, and 2026, according to the action agenda.