So four years and change ago, I wrote this:
If current trends are going to continue, circa-1990 stadiums like SkyDome/Rogers Centre, New Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field, and even Camden Yards would have to be replaced by the end of this decade. Okay, probably not Camden Yards — though I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Baltimore Orioles ask for “improvements.” But it’s going to be very interesting to see whether teams start demanding new stadiums, and if so how they justify them, as the first wave of “retro” parks start going out of warranty.
As it turns out, whoever had 2015 in the “When will the Orioles owners ask for upgrades to Camden Yards?” pool, you’re a winner!
The Baltimore Orioles are considering updates to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the 23-year-old stadium still celebrated for its red-brick hominess and retro charm…
The latest stadiums incorporate design elements — such as open concourses commanding views of the game — that Camden Yards lacks. Many also include stadium clubs for VIPs that offer prime, low-level field views.
Now, this isn’t totally crazy, depending on what the Orioles want to do with the stadium (and even team officials say they’re not sure yet). Doing some minor improvements a couple of decades down the road certainly makes a lot more sense than tearing a stadium down and building a whole new one, and shouldn’t be a problem so long as the public isn’t expected to—
The state holds a capital expenditure account that might be used. And since there is some retired debt on Camden Yards, new bonds could be issued to finance improvements.
Guh? I’d ask on what planet it would make sense for the state to finance upgrades that will benefit solely the Orioles, but the Baltimore Sun website never answers when I shout at my computer screen.
The one possible silver lining is that the state might ask the Orioles owners to extend their lease beyond 2021 in exchange — “Typically, when you see a very large amount of capital expenditure, it comes with a new lease negotiation,” Maryland Stadium Authority Michael Frenz told the Sun — though given that they have a decent sized market and a popular stadium and are making money hand over fist, it’s not like they could reasonably threaten to leave with or without a lease. Maybe the MSA will offer to float some bonds for stadium construction in exchange for the Orioles offsetting the bond costs by paying more in rent — ha ha, we all know that’s not likely to happen. But we can dream, can’t we?