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Orioles’ ownership are reportedly selling the team for $1.725 billion, ending the reign of control person John Angelos. I’ll pause a moment for fans of the team to applaud. It can’t just be a straightforward deal, though, since this is the Orioles and Angelos we’re talking about. No, this is complicated, with multiple steps in the process, and oh, John Angelos and the rest of the family aren’t actually going anywhere yet. They’re merely selling a significant chunk of the team and handing over the day-to-day control to a new owner, billionaire David Rubenstein (who is buying the team alongside another wealthy individual, Michael Arougheti, and, per the Baltimore Banner, O’s legend Cal Ripken Jr. is part of the group as well).
So here’s what’s going on with the sale and why it won’t just be a straightforward, 100 percent exchange of dollars for the Orioles. One, as multiple outlets have already mentioned, Peter Angelos, 94, will be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains tax should he sell the team before he dies. Peter Angelos became the majority stakeholder of the Orioles back in 1993 with a $173 million bid at auction (which not all of was necessarily his money, given a group bid on the club), and the team is set to sell for around 10 times as much now. Since capital gains tax is a tax on the profit made on the sale of an investment, well, it’d be pretty significant here. If Angelos dies first, though, then capital gains tax no longer applies. So the rest of the Angelos clan has found a way to sell the team before Peter dies without having to pay, basically: the remaining 60 percent of the club will be sold to Rubenstein and Co. after that happens.
Of course the ultra wealthy would have a way to avoid paying taxes on their investments like this, because why wouldn’t that be a cornerstone of how things work — regular people have to pay taxes on their winnings from The Price is Right, but the Angelos kids can simply take the immense profit made from their father’s investment in the club without paying a cent if they time it right —but it’s even more aggravating to see this in concert with the public funds that the current ownership secured shortly before this news leaked. As the Banner reported:
In December, a Bloomberg report that Rubenstein was in talks to buy the Orioles, coupled with the reservations of key lawmakers, caused a deal for a new lease at Camden Yards to fall apart. John Angelos called [Governor Wes] Moore to say he was not planning to sell a majority stake in the team; the team and state agreed on a deal the following week.
So, Angelos lied to the state, that’s pretty clear. Bloomberg even had the name of the guy who was going to buy a significant stake in the team correct six weeks ago! Now, technically speaking, said scathingly, Angelos didn’t lie, but has kept his promise: he is not selling a majority stake in the team… yet. He’s selling a 40 percent stake in the team with the rest of it being sold at some undetermined point in time. Peter Angelos is 94, however, and has handed control of the club over to John due to his illness (which Baltimore Banner reports is “advanced dementia”), which has kept him from actually running the team and making any decisions for years now. Given his extreme wealth and the kind of care he can afford, maybe he lives another 10 years, who knows. Maybe 10 weeks, 10 days — he’s 94 years old, for God’s sake, you get the picture.
Then, the rest of the team will be sold following Peter’s death — the point here is that John Angelos was “planning to sell a majority stake” in the Orioles, he’s just not planning a specific date on which he’ll complete that transaction. For legal purposes, this is all on the up and up, or at least unassailable, but it’s still pretty shit to say one thing in order to secure $600 million in public funds you can only get by promising you won’t sell the team, and then selling the team once you sign the deal that gets you $600 million in public funds. And knowing the way that whole thing went down, the sale thing was probably just a verbal assurance and not actually in the contract, too. Nice work, government employees, you’ve once again shown why you can be trusted handling sports teams.
Anyway. Pretty neat that the Angelos family can avoid paying hundreds of millions in capital gain taxes and also lie to the state of Maryland to get $600 million in public funds in the span of like, two months. And that it’ll all just work out for them, because they get nearly $700 million now and another billion dollars later on, money they helped secure in no small part because they’ve avoided adding additional salaries to the team despite a need to upgrade and wrangled $600 million for stadium upgrades from the state. Living consequence-free because of who your dad is must be just lovely, but at least you know that if you’re a lawyer you can probably still make John Angelos upset by sending in proof that you passed the bar.
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