The Orioles Prepare for Private Equity Control

As part of the deal, the group will start off owning about 40 percent of the club.
As part of the deal, the group will start off owning about 40 percent of the club. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
John Ourand
January 30, 2024

It looks like the Orioles sale is finally going to happen. I’ve had several plugged-in sources tell me that the team’s owner, John Angelos, has agreed to sell the franchise to a group led by two private equity billionaires: David Rubenstein, who started the Carlyle Group, hails from Baltimore, and has been tied to the deal for months; and Ares Management Corp. co-founder Mike Arougheti, who lives in New York. The extent of Arougheti’s involvement is unclear, but Rubenstein will become the “control person,” the term MLB uses for teams’ decision-makers. The deal values the club at $1.725 billion. 

As part of the deal, the group will start off owning about 40 percent of the club. The group will buy Angelos’ remaining stake following the death of Peter Angelos, the family patriarch, who has been incapacitated for years by an illness. MLB owners will receive details of the sale at their annual meeting in Orlando next week. And while Rubenstein and Arougheti have reached an agreement with Angelos, there isn’t a timetable for the deal to close.

What’s not known, of course, is how this deal will impact the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. The Orioles own about three-fourths of MASN, with the neighboring Washington Nationals owning the rest. MASN controls the local broadcasting rights for both the Orioles and the Nationals, but its complex structure has stalled attempts by both the Orioles and Nationals owners to sell their respective teams. But it shouldn’t be a surprise that these new owners, masters in the high art of financial structuring, overcame the blocker.

Joy in Mudville

This news will be celebrated by fans of the Orioles,  who have not been to the World Series since 1983. The last change of ownership came in 1993, when Peter Angelos bought the team from financier Eli Jacobs for the princely sum of $173 million. But after some early success in the mid-’90s, at the tail end of the Cal Ripken Jr. era, the O’s fell on hard times. From 1998 to 2011, the team didn’t even finish over .500.

I would know. My son was born in 1999, and I cajoled him into becoming a fan. He didn’t see winning baseball for the first 12 years of his life. He still hasn’t cheered for his team in the World Series. Most fans place the blame for those poor results on Angelos, who earned a reputation for being tight-fisted with player salaries.

These days, however, prospects are looking up for the team. Thanks to a strategy supported by Angelos, the Orioles tanked on the field in the late 2010s. That resulted in the team acquiring top draft picks including Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, and Jackson Holliday, who have worked their way through the minors and shown abundant promise. The Orioles won the A.L. East last season with 101 wins and, despite a disappointing postseason finish, the team is considered an American League favorite this coming season.