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Report: Billionaire David Rubenstein in talks to potentially buy Orioles

The Orioles have been owned by the Angelos family since 1993, but questions about the team’s long-term future in both Camden Yards and Baltimore have persisted in recent years.

Detail view of a patch of a Baltimore Orioles logo on a player uniform during a game against the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 27, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Brandon Sloter/Getty Images

David Rubenstein, a Baltimore native and co-founder of private equity giant The Carlyle Group, is in talks to purchase his hometown Orioles, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Gillian Tan. Tan adds that Rubenstein is “among suitors pursuing a transaction,” and that “nothing has been finalized and talks may still fall apart.”

The O’s have been owned by Peter Angelos since he purchased the team for $173 million back in 1993. But Peter’s health has failed him in recent years, resulting in his sons John and Louis taking control of the franchise — and the club becoming entangled in a power struggle at the top and seemingly nonstop rumors about its long-term future.

Part of that power struggle (in addition to, of course, lots of money) was whether the team would remain in Baltimore. A lawsuit involving John, Louis, and Peter’s wife Georgia alleged that John had designs on relocating the franchise to Nashville, Tennessee; John was apparently unsatisfied with the state’s plan to allocate $600 million in funding for improvements to Camden Yards, seeking additional taxpayer dollars to build a ballpark village (as well as development rights on state-owned parking lots nearby).

Those relocation rumors also appeared to be put to rest earlier this year, when the Orioles and Maryland Governor Wes Moore signed a memorandum of understanding — basically, a framework for an agreement — on a new 30-year lease that was slated to keep the team at Camden Yards for the foreseeable future. Alas, that announcement appears to have been an overstatement: Just a few weeks away from the expiration of the team’s current lease on Dec. 31, the two sides have still yet to reach a deal, with Andy Kostka of the Baltimore Banner reporting that ”talks have been fraught in recent weeks”. Per Kostka, the Orioles have sought the ability to “create new revenue streams via development of state-owned buildings and land” in addition to the standard lease terms, language familiar to past stadium battles from Atlanta to Oakland and everywhere in between.

If ownership and state government can’t see eye-to-eye on a path forward, John Angelos could decide he’s better off selling the team now rather than reupping at Camden Yards or attempting a long and ugly relocation battle. If he does in fact look to sell, Rubinstein would be an awfully compelling candidate, a Baltimore native worth upwards of $3 billion who was instrumental in turning Carlyle into among the largest private equity firms in the world.