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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Oriole Park almost got a new name

The sale of the Orioles scuttled a corporate sponsorship that would have changed the ballpark’s name to T. Rowe Price at Camden Yards.

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St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The weather may still be gross in the greater Maryland area, but spring is drawing ever closer as the Orioles make their way down to Sarasota to begin camp this week. Soon we’ll be hearing breathless reports about how every player is in the best shape of his life, and all will be right with the world again.

Meanwhile, we’re continuing to learn some surprising details about the impending sale of the Orioles from the Angelos family to David Rubenstein. According to The Baltimore Banner, the previous ownership group was on the verge of selling the naming rights to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and had agreed to a 10-year deal with T. Rowe Price that would have renamed the ballpark T. Rowe Price Park at Camden Yards. The parties would have announced the deal on Feb. 6.

The surprise sale of the team, though, has at least postponed the agreement and maybe scrapped it altogether. It’s not known whether the new ownership group will attempt to revisit the deal with T. Rowe Price, as Rubenstein will not comment until the O’s sale is finalized.

Had the deal gone through, it would have marked the first name change to the O’s ballpark since its opening in 1992, and I’m going to assume it would have stirred up a lot of strong opinions among Orioles fans. There’s a sizable portion of the fan base that would accuse the Birds of selling out and defiling the great history of their iconic ballpark by branding it with a corporate sponsor.

I get that. It’s kind of cool that the Orioles have gone more than 30 years playing in one of the few sports venues not named after a company. A ballpark whose name started out as a bit of word salad — a compromise forged when then-owner Eli Jacobs and then-governor William Donald Schaefer couldn’t agree on the best name — has become quaint, familiar, and synonymous with Orioles baseball. Plus, “T. Rowe Price Park” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And it would not make me any more or less likely to use T. Rowe Price for all my investment management needs.

Still, if the deal had happened — and if it still ends up happening at some point — I suspect we’d get used to it. If the new name sounds awkward, well, there’s no rule that you as a fan have to use the full name. Just keep calling it “Camden Yards.” We’ll know what you mean. And the Orioles would be getting a financial boost from the deal, which is nice. Of course, whether the Angelos family would have reinvested some of that money into the roster or simply pocketed it is another question.

It doesn’t matter anymore, as the Angeloses (Angeli?) will no longer be involved. If a corporate sponsorship is something Rubenstein wants to pursue, so be it, but I would wager that renaming the ballpark will not be highest on his list of priorities once he takes over as the primary owner.


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