Nats-Orioles Fees Dispute Likely To Be Reheard
WASHINGTON (AP) — The long-running dispute between the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles over television rights fees likely will be reheard by a committee of baseball executives this fall.
A New York State Supreme Court justice in 2015 threw out a 2012 arbitration decision that said the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network owes the Nationals $298 million for the team’s 2012-16 television rights. Last summer, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division voted 3-2 to send the decision back to baseball’s Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee.
The RSDC currently includes Milwaukee Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio, Seattle Mariners President Kevin Mather and Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro. The original decision was made by Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly, Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.
“At the end of the litigation that took place in the New York courts, the most important thing that was determined was that the original agreement of the parties must be upheld and the most important aspect of that is that the Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee is the body that the parties agreed would settle this dispute,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said.
Baseball officials said the RSDC is likely to hear the dispute this fall.
Manfred spoke Tuesday before the All-Star Game at Nationals Park. The Orioles last hosted the All-Stars in 1993, the year after Camden Yards opened.
“Whether or not there’s an All-Star Game in Baltimore depends on whether Baltimore gets organized and submits a bid that would be compelling for an All-Star Game, just like any other team,'” Manfred said.
MASN was established in March 2005 after the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington and became the Nationals, moving into what had been Baltimore’s exclusive broadcast territory since 1972. The Orioles were given a supermajority partnership interest in MASN, starting at 90 percent, and Washington made a $75 million payment to the network for an initial 10 percent stake.
The agreement called for the Nationals’ equity to increase 1 percent annually, starting after the 2009 season, with a cap of 33 percent. The network’s rights payments to each team were set at $20 million apiece in 2005 and 2006, rising to $25 million in 2007, with $1 million annual increases through 2011.