Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved David Rubenstein as the new controlling owner of the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, a day before the team’s 2024 season begins. The vote, conducted during a conference call, means the Orioles will have a managing owner not named Angelos on opening day for the first time in three decades.

The deal approved by the owners gives Rubenstein, co-founder of the private equity firm Carlyle Group and a longtime Washington-area philanthropist, and his prominent minority investors 40 percent of a franchise that will close on 1 $.7 billion was valued. Under the terms, current controlling owner John Angelos agreed to cede that position to Rubenstein, and his family agreed to give Rubenstein the option to purchase the remainder of the team once family patriarch Peter Angelos died.

For that reason, the timing of Rubenstein’s takeover felt almost preordained. Peter Angelos, the self-made billionaire and senior figure in the family that bought the Orioles in 1993, died Saturday after a long illness. He was 94.

Out of respect for the family’s grieving, Rubenstein and his group have not yet spoken to the family to work out the details of the purchase of the rest of the team, but a deal seems likely to happen sooner or later. Angelos’ death meant his family would not have to pay capital gains taxes on profits made on the franchise since he bought it for $173 million in 1993. Given the sales price, those taxes would have cost the family hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred thanked the Angelos family “for their many years of service to the game and the communities of Baltimore” and said that “Rubenstein, a native of Baltimore and lifelong fan of the team, is ideally suited to lead the Orioles moving forward.”

Regardless of when the deal for the remaining 60 percent is completed, it will be Rubenstein sitting in the owner’s box at Camden Yards on Thursday afternoon when the Orioles open one of their promising seasons of the past 30 years. They will do so in the wake of the stunning tragedy in Rubenstein’s hometown after the Francis Scott Key Bridge, visible from the Orioles’ executive offices, collapsed early Tuesday. As a result, the Orioles canceled a planned public workout on Tuesday.

Rubenstein, 74, had been interested in buying the Orioles for years. He worked on a potential deal with Washington billionaire Ted Leonsis in which Rubenstein would invest in Leonsis’s Monumental Sports & Entertainment to help that group buy the Orioles, although that deal never materialized. Leonsis then turned his attention to the Washington Nationals, for which he offered more than $2 billion in 2022. But by then, Rubenstein — who was also said to have an interest in the Nationals, according to multiple people familiar with his thinking — had decided to pursue a team with a new group.

Ultimately, Rubenstein put together a group that included Michael Arougheti, co-founder of private equity firm Ares Management, and several prominent investors with ties to the Baltimore region, including Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr., a Johns Hopkins graduate and former mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg and former mayor of Baltimore. Kurt Schmoke. That group will begin managing the Orioles just hours before the first pitch of their 2024 season.

“Baltimore was always my first interest because I grew up in Baltimore. I grew up and educated there,” Rubenstein said recently in a telephone interview. “It’s much more appealing to me for many reasons. And I also think that the team is actually in extremely good shape, despite the fact that they haven’t had a lot of money in recent years.”

For years, Baltimore fans expressed frustration with how much the Angelos family was willing to invest in their on-field product. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Orioles haven’t had a team payroll in the top half of the MLB since 2017, and haven’t had a payroll in the top third of the sport in more than a decade. Last year, when they won the American League East with a team built largely around players who had not yet tapped into free agency or even arbitration, the Orioles finished with the second-smallest payroll in the MLB.

“I don’t want to prejudge what we’ll do (in terms of spending),” Rubenstein said, “but what we will do is follow the recommendations of (general manager) Mike Elias and his team.”

Speaking about Elias and the Orioles’ vaunted baseball operations department, Rubenstein said he doesn’t plan to make any major changes when he takes over — nor is he particularly hands-on when it comes to baseball decisions.

“When you have the general manager of the year in the American League and the manager of the year in the American League, do you really think they need my advice on who to play?” Rubenstein said, referring to Elias and Baltimore Manager Brandon Hyde. “My idea is: you are the best in the industry, I am here to support you. I’m not going to get involved in many things that are not my area of ​​expertise.”

One thing Rubenstein does want to address, however, is finding a solution to the decades-long headache that is the MASN dispute. While he wouldn’t provide details on what a resolution might look like for the regional sports network that also airs Nationals games, he made it clear he hopes to do what the Lerner and Angelos families couldn’t and come up with a more palatable arrangement.

“I think the entire baseball world, and all the fans of Baltimore and Washington, would like to see this resolved in a friendly, amicable manner in the near future,” Rubenstein said, “and that is my goal.”

Resolving that dispute should never be easier than it is now, as the cable revenues at the heart of the dispute have shrunk to a fraction of their former size as a result of cord-cutting. But even without details on what a resolution might look like, Rubenstein’s optimism represents a clear change in attitude toward the Baltimore franchise, which may be all that’s needed. A new Orioles era has already begun, both on and off the field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *