It’s a good day for everyone who’s tired of John Angelos being in control of their favorite baseball team. The sale of the Orioles, rumored several months ago, has reportedly been agreed to. Sports business journalist John Ourand of Puck News reported on the sale on Tuesday evening.
Ourand’s report indicates that two men who have amassed multi-billion dollar fortunes in the world of private equity have joined to purchase the team. David Rubenstein, a Baltimore-born former chairman of the Carlyle Group who was linked to the team in last year’s rumors, is one of the two who’s agreed to pay $1.725 billion for the team, according to Ourand.
Initially, the new owners will acquire a 40% stake in the Orioles, with the remaining to be sold after the death of Peter Angelos, Ourand’s report said. Peter is technically still the majority owner of the team but has not been in control for several years due to health issues. Peter Angelos is 94 years old. There is not yet a firm plan about when the deal will close, but it’s expected to be discussed at MLB owner meetings next week.
Just yesterday, The Washington Post reported on Rubenstein announcing his coming retirement as chairman of the Kennedy Center in DC. Maybe that’s connected! Or maybe it’s not. But you can read some more about him there in any case.
Rubenstein’s partner in the venture, Ourand reported, is Mike Arougheti, who is the CEO of Ares Management Corporation. A recent Forbes profile of Arougheti does not reveal any Maryland ties in his life history. Sportico wrote that Rubenstein will be the control person after the sale is completed.
The Baltimore Banner’s Andy Kostka added that there are Maryland leaders, philanthropists, and sports legends, involved in the ownership group as well. He later specifically named one of the legends: Cal Ripken Jr. A lot of people have dreamed of Ripken owning the Orioles for a long time. Now, he’s going to own at least a small fraction of the team.
I’ll just briefly say that I hope that the business practices that made these guys billionaires are not what they plan to use to wring money out of owning the Orioles, worse than what anyone thinks Angelos is already doing. That would start to suck for O’s fans very quickly. Of course, it’s hard - though not impossible - for the big league payroll to be cut much more than it is right now.
For now, Angelos has been so awful over the last year-plus that this feels like a case of any devil we don’t know being preferable to the devil we know. People whose memory of this franchise stretches back to the mid-1990s are well-acquainted with that era of meddling by Angelos’s father Peter, some of which precipitated the team’s slide into decade-plus irrelevance.
Not only have John Angelos’s actions - assuming he’s responsible for the team’s not investing in a free agent starting pitcher this winter - been obnoxious, he also sounds like one of the world’s biggest dishonest idiots every time he opens his mouth. He appears to be largely responsible for the Camden Yards lease negotiations dragging out into the final weeks of 2023.
On the subject of that lease agreement, one thing that will be interesting to keep an eye on is whether the new owners have any plans to make use of the potential development rights that were granted by the lease.
The objection raised to an earlier version of the lease by State Senator Bill Ferguson, whose district includes Camden Yards, noting that there’s no way to even know who will own the team, appears to have been a wise one. Angelos’s reported phone call to the governor about not planning to sell the team may have been about as honest as everything else Angelos publicly said in 2023.
It’s not all over with yet, and these reports haven’t hit any of the mainstream press yet, so if you want to take it all with a grain of salt, be my guest. Those who want to pop a bottle of champagne to toast the end of the Angelos reign, whether that’s a metaphorical or actual bottle, don’t let me stop you.
Still looking for more on the sale and what it means going forward? Give a listen to my breaking news episode of the podcast: