Today, we have much to celebrate as we welcome Orioles baseball back to Camden Yards for the 2022 home opener and officially begin the season-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of “The Ballpark That Forever Changed Baseball.”
I am pleased to announce that over this weekend and on the eve of Opening Day in Baltimore, the Maryland State legislature passed an historic initiative committing $1.2 billion in public funding from the State of Maryland for reinvestment in and reimagination of the Camden Yards Sports Complex. This marks the second-largest public commitment of funding to a Major League Baseball public-private sports partnership, second only to the 2009 construction of the new Yankee Stadium.
These public funds are just a portion of the more than ten billion dollars in economic tourism impact generated by the Orioles during the past three decades at Camden Yards. Over the course of producing nearly 2,500 live professional events and telecasting those games, the Orioles, Mid-Atlantic Sports network, and Orioles Entertainment have attracted 75 million visitors to downtown Baltimore who have walked through the hallowed gates of Camden Yards to be a part of community milestones, live music, and of course, professional baseball. The Orioles were the winningest team in the American League from 2012-2016, a remarkable achievement under baseball’s unique system that challenges teams from small and middle markets in ways that no other sports league does. The Orioles are a leading employer of thousands of workers, have relocated our Minor League affiliates to Maryland communities in Aberdeen, Bowie, and Salisbury, and are leading in diversity and equality in key positions in our front office.
Beginning in 2019, we devoted our entire company to building through the farm system in the “Oriole Way” of past eras, recently emulated successfully by other MLB clubs. As a result, we now boast the No. 1 rated player talent pool and scouting and development system in all of Major League Baseball, highlighted by both the top overall MLB prospect in Adley Rutschman and the No. 1 overall MLB pitching prospect in Grayson Rodriguez. When we began this journey in 2019, we expected our Minor League rebuild to take four to five years, even before accounting for the unpredictable loss of an entire year of Minor League baseball in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a credit to the entire organization’s resolve and the effective leadership of the Senior Leadership Team, Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias, and his team of Sig Mejdal, Brandon Hyde, and so many bright, young analysts, coaches, teachers, and trainers that we have rapidly risen to the top of the league in this critical area.
In a very short span of time, we can report that the franchise has a bright future, having secured the financial resources needed to reinvest in Oriole Park’s amenities, after breaking ground on an historic new training academy in the Dominican Republic, now paired with the best Spring Training and year-round training complex in Florida or Arizona at Ed Smith Stadium. We have also moved to the cutting edge of baseball analytics and player performance by investing in the best and brightest people, finest new state-of-the-art training facilities, and high-technology player development systems. On the entertainment front, we followed up hosting one iconic music artist in Billy Joel before the pandemic with an equally legendary performing force in Paul McCartney, as we aggressively remake the national image of Baltimore and Oriole Park at Camden Yards as a must-play destination for every world-class tour and marquee event. All the while, we continue to lead the league in fan and family-friendly pricing, atmosphere, and customer service and satisfaction for those making the baseball pilgrimage to Camden Yards.
None of this would be possible without the contributions of every member of our team. I look forward to celebrating and enjoying with all of you, our fans, and Marylanders what Camden Yards and the Orioles mean to so many this season, and another 30 seasons. Go O’s!
Chairman and CEO, Baltimore Orioles