And hey, look, another major media article that can’t do basic math! Let’s start with the headline:
Orioles payments to stadium authority exceed original cost of Camden Yards
Wow, that would indeed be impressive. Is perhaps Camden Yards one of those rare examples like the Minneapolis Metrodome, of a stadium where the public put up a bunch of money up front but then was repaid in full and more by lease payments over time? Spoiler: no.
Documents show the authority has received an average of $6.4 million in annual rent from the team, plus $4.1 million a year as its share of state admissions taxes. The total, through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, is $255 million.
That compares favorably with the stadium’s original $225 million price tag, including $100 million for land acquisition and $125 million for the stadium.
Yeah, no, that’s not how money works. Even if you count state admissions taxes as new state revenues (the Orioles would have been paying them if they’d stayed at Memorial Stadium, too), $10.5 million a year over 25 years is only worth about $140 million in present value, still far less than the $225 million price tag. Or if it helps, you could flip it around the other way and see if $10.5 million a year is enough to pay off the state’s annual debt payments — oh, look, the Sun actually did that:
The stadium authority said it pays about $15 million a year in debt service — principal plus interest — on the 30-year bonds issued to pay for Camden Yards.
So by the Sun’s own calculations, Maryland is actually losing money on Camden Yards. Anything else?
The debt service, however, is paid with Maryland Lottery proceeds appropriated each year by the General Assembly. The authority uses the team’s rent money for ballpark operations.
Oh, right, ballpark operations costs. So really the Orioles’ rent payments pay nothing towards the public’s debt on Camden Yards. Lovely headline, though — beautiful plumage.