Orioles announce partnership with Naval Academy

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The Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox warm up before an exhibition game at the Naval Academy’s Max Bishop Stadium. Image via the Office of the Maryland Governor, managed by the Maryland State Archives.

The Baltimore Orioles and U.S. Naval Academy have formed a partnership to bring a Major League Baseball exhibition to Annapolis and an Army-Navy double-header to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Orioles announced today.

The games between the rival service academies are set for March 25 and will benefit two nonprofit organizations that provide housing for the family of military members receiving treatment at VA hospitals and military medical centers, the Naval Academy Athletics Association and the Fisher House Foundation.

General admission tickets are on sale now and cost $10, and parking is available for an additional $5. Military members dressed in uniform receive free admission.

This summer, the Orioles will host “Navy Day” in Baltimore in August, inviting 1,000 Midshipmen to a game, their first off-campus activity since becoming freshman, or Plebes.

Next year, the Orioles will take the field at Max Bishop Stadium for an exhibition with a yet-to-be-named major league club.

“The entire Orioles organization is honored to join with the United States Naval Academy now and for many years to come in this unique year-round partnership in sports and charitable programming that brings Orioles players and fans together with the Midshipmen and leadership of such a venerated national institution,” Orioles executive vice president John Angelos said in a statement.

The Orioles also pledged to host Navy’s baseball team at their Sarasota, Florida, spring training complex in future years for workouts and exhibition games with minor league players.

In a statement, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said: “The baseball team will enjoy an amazing experience, and the doubleheader is a fantastic way to showcase the great Army-Navy rivalry. Our thanks to the Angelos family and Orioles management for making these opportunities for the athletes and the Brigade of Midshipmen happen. Go Navy! Go O’s!”

The partnership comes four months after a similar partnership between Navy and the Washington Nationals was nixed because it infringed on the Orioles’ market territory. Washington hosted the Boston Red Sox for an exhibition just before the start of the 2017 season, in what was supposed to be the start of an annual series.

According to The Washington Post, the Orioles allowed the game to proceed, but Major League Baseball decided it could only be a one-time event.

While the on-field rivalry between the Orioles and Nationals only has a few series in a given year, the battle between Baltimore and Washington has dragged on in the courtroom. Both clubs have been locked in a long legal dispute over broadcast revenues from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the channel that broadcasts both teams’ games.

As part of the agreement that brought the Nationals to Washington from Montreal, the Orioles own a majority stake of the network that incrementally decreases over time. But the Nationals claim they are owed millions more for television rights.

A New York special appeals court in July 2017 sent the case back to a MLB arbitration panel. The network appealed, but that was dismissed in November. A MASN lawyer told SportsBusiness Daily the court’s ruling meant the network had to refile with a different form, which it did.

Brandon Weigel

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