Trying to understand the facts about new Orioles lease at Camden Yards

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As the ink was drying on the new Maryland Stadium Authority deal with John Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles, former MSA chairman Tom Kelso joins Nestor for a primer on a new stadium deal at Camden Yards and what it means for the fans, the citizens and the team. A compelling stop on the Maryland Crab Cake Tour for the holidays at Weis Markets at Honeygo in Perry Hall.


stadium, orioles, team, governor, authority, ravens, state, years, lease, money, legislature, maryland, angelo, appoints, baltimore, craig thompson, talked, happen, chairman, member


Nestor J. Aparicio, Tom Kelso

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:00

W n s t Towson Baltimore and Baltimore positive we are positively no longer at home we are we’re out on the road we are we’re doing a Maryland crab cake tour at wise markets. We’re here at honey go I have all sorts of lottery tickets to give away I have some Oh snaps I have so some scented the smell like gingerbread. The peppermint pay outs now also smell like gingerbread because the gingerbread is a dominant sin, as well as the unwrapped cash. We’re gonna be at fade Lee’s two days after Christmas next Wednesday during the Maryland crab cake tour. It has been busy between the Ravens winning between our show curio and foreign data Regina shock over the weekend. doing all the things we’re doing our friends at window nation remind you 866 90 nation to buy to get two free through the holidays and Jiffy Lube MultiCare my little orange lights on I’m up here at honey go at wise market celebrating Christmas. We got like fruitcake here and eggnog we’re gonna have before the show’s over and Tom Kelso could participate or maybe not. We’re gonna ask him sauerkraut, kielbasa. He’s getting a crab cake here. Signature crab cake for wise, whether he knows it or not. It has been crazy. You were sick. We were gonna do this in Hollywood Casino. You’ve been at this for the better part of the last 90 days as the former Maryland stadium authority chairman, in trying to notify the public as to what was negotiated initially, and what the Angelo’s family in the Orioles have wanted over the course of the year and why the least isn’t done. And why the Ravens have now videos, plans, they’ve already spent the money $480 million of the 600 million that were granted. I mean, there’s so much happening here, but there was a meeting two hours prior to you showing up this morning. So this is Monday it is Christmas week here. If you’re listening on the podcast, our attempt is to completely educate I call this stadia for Dummies when we got together originally there wasn’t going to be a vote then there was a vote now there’s a vote is this Elise, let’s start with this Tom Kelso because like you and I’ve talked a lot about mo use what legally happened on Monday in Annapolis in regard to the stadium authority, and in regard to changes to what the Ravens have already celebrated and spent versus what the Orioles wanted in I guess got today. Well,

Tom Kelso  02:22

there’s a lot in that question. But the actual action today is actually taking place at the Camden Yards warehouse in the MSA offices and then the Oriole offices. So at 10am. This morning, the Maryland stadium Authority Board met in a specially called meeting to consider this amendment to the existing Orioles

Nestor J. Aparicio  02:46

lease How many members are there on that board?

Tom Kelso  02:49

There are 10 members on the board. Now they sit under the chairman who used

Nestor J. Aparicio  02:53

to be us now Craig Thompson are these 10 members, the 10 members that were there when you were there? What’s the mix of that about

Tom Kelso  03:01

half of them were there when I was there. And so it’s there are 11 seats. One of them is open. Nobody fills that seat. And Chairman Thompson occupies one of the seats and

Nestor J. Aparicio  03:16

one of the 10 Yeah, okay, correct. So there’s nine other board members. These are made up of whom and appointed by whom and how Sure,

Tom Kelso  03:24

well, the vast majority of them are appointed by the governor. So the governor appoints eight members. The mayor of Baltimore appoints one member, I’m sorry, the governor appoints seven members. The mayor of Baltimore appoints one member, the county executive and Prince George’s County appoints one member, the president of the senate appoints one member, and the Speaker of the House appoints one member. So it’s a pretty diverse body in terms of where they come from across the state. And their backgrounds, their occupations, and then you know, who actually actually makes the appointment of those people.

Nestor J. Aparicio  04:11

But the people in the room today we’re West Morris people, some of them were hold held over from before that correct. There

Tom Kelso  04:19

are a couple of people that were appointed during the Hogan administration. Actually, there are a few people that were appointed during the O’Malley administration, okay, that managed to survive the Hogan administration and now are still there during the more administration, these people get paid. No.

Nestor J. Aparicio  04:35

I’m just floored by all of this, that you’ve never made a nickel and you know, I brought this up at the beginning. We’ve gotten together a couple times if you’ve been on the trail to you know, I’ve called your whistleblower behind your back but a truth teller, or to someone who is speaking up for our money and someone who obviously loves the Orioles. The Ravens wants to lease but I’m blown away and these people are compensated. I I think that over a billion dollars was voted on by like, some sort of uncompensated jury, right? It’s kind of a little bit of a jury kind of, well,

Tom Kelso  05:10

the MSA approves or doesn’t approve, but if the MSA approves something, it’s still then goes to the State Board of Public Works, which is made up of the governor, the state treasurer and the state comptroller. So the MSA board votes primarily to assure that everything is in compliance with the Maryland stadium authority statute, and that the staff has done all the work that they’re supposed to do on things. And then for major contracts, large amounts of money, it then goes to the Maryland State Board of Public Works. So this afternoon at 315. The Maryland Board of Public Works will also meet at the Camden Yards warehouse, and they will then discuss and vote on what the MSA board approved today.

Nestor J. Aparicio  06:00

All right. Tom council was here. We’re wise markets. We’re doing a crabcake tour. There’s gonna be crabcakes and I have all sorts of literature here and notes and thoughts. Bring me up to speed on what’s happened since the last time we got together. You know, I have reached a Westmore. I have reached to Craig Thompson. Wes Moore has emailed me back numerous times. The governor had said he would be on the show by the end of the month. That’s not going to happen. I’m hoping he joins us next month. I have reached a bill Ferguson, I have reached two proclear men so I’m trying I will get everyone’s input on this. And it doesn’t have to all happen today or by Christmas or I mean there’s no shovel in the ground. Lord knows the Orioles are glacial it anything that they do or will do with this money. What has changed, and the MOU was so lopsided. And I have it in front of me here this the memorandum of understanding for this was what John Angelos released to the world. It is signed at least DocuSign by Craig Thompson. This is the legitimate what this was John Angeles’s dream plan, right, basically, right. This is what he thought he was going to get three months ago, when Westworld was in his box. What’s different between this, that you were opposed to parts of it? And we had talked about these? Two? What actually happened? What What was the negotiation? Where did they find common ground?

Tom Kelso  07:29

Well, before I answer that question, Nestor, let me just say is, is that, you know, any type of sophisticated lease or financial agreement, you know, takes a lot of time, and there are a lot of different things that have to be considered. And I will say is, is that, you know, having been part of the state for eight years, is is that I know that the state is difficult to negotiate with, because you’ve got the administrative branch of government agencies that fall underneath the governor, in which case, the stadium authority is that, but then you also have the Maryland legislature that has rights and responsibilities to participate in various things. And then you also have the Office of the Attorney General, that is a separately elected state official that also participates in these negotiations to say this is legal to say it’s legal. That’s correct. And so, you know, for a team or any party negotiating with the state, it is a complex thing to that you have to do because you have to negotiate first with the primary agency that you’re dealing with, in this case, the Maryland stadium authority. And, and because the governor was so very active in this, it was the stadium authority really am the governor or maybe it was the governor and the Maryland stadium authority, leading the negotiation, but the legislature has rights. And so you know, all money appropriated, actually is done by the legislature. It’s not done by the governor. So in order to appropriate money, a bill has to be put in the legislature and passed. So the $1.2 billion stadium funding bill, House Bill 896 and 2022 is actually a legislative action. It was done by the legislature. The entire Maryland has stadium authority statute. The four walls of what the law allows for the stadium authority to be able to do is is a statute that was created by the legislature back in 1986. And it has been amended numerous times over the 27 years, since it was put in or 37 years since it was put into place. So But during this statute the legislature has some approval rights. So not only did the governor have to approve the stadium authority have to approve, but the legislature had things that it had to approve. And then of course, the Office of the Attorney General also has to approve from a legal sufficiency standpoint. So it’s complicated.

Nestor J. Aparicio  10:17

So if Angeles gets more money than the original 600 million, we talked about the parody clause and all of that. Bill Ferguson, Westmore, Derek Davis, Brooklyn, Sherman say, Okay, on Monday, this is not going back to Annapolis. Right, this, this is an amendment to that to do that. But an amendment, if there’s any more money involved, wouldn’t that not go back to Annapolis again, if there’s more than 600 million appropriate? Sure.

Tom Kelso  10:45

So what’s being voted on this afternoon is an A an extension, and an amendment to the existing Baltimore Orioles lease. So it’s actually extending it to, from what I understand, and I haven’t seen all of the documents, so I’m talking somewhat, you know, uncomfortably, because I don’t know everything that’s in there. I’m just looking at the summer. Timing of

Nestor J. Aparicio  11:12

this sit down here is not perfect, but it is perfect from this news. And it’s happening. But I think a month from now. We’ll be clear, we’ll know more. Right? So there is a nebulous part of what did he get you they gave him what and how did they give it to him? And how could they give it to him when this was appropriated by the legislature so well, anything above that feels like Hokey Pokey to me. But this is where the Attorney General and other people are saying, How much could they give him above and beyond what was already given? That would be my question. So

Tom Kelso  11:46

today, no more money is being given because the governor doesn’t have the authority, nor does the stadium authority, have the authority to enter into a contract and grant more money? The grants a part

Nestor J. Aparicio  11:57

of this MOU was fallacious in its own right, because it includes promises and an understanding that Craig Thompson and Westmore we’re not authorized to give him is that well,

Tom Kelso  12:09

they can give it in an MOU. But before it becomes final, it has to go to the legislature to actually vote on the funding bill, and appropriate the money in the future that would be given to the Orioles. So that vote is not going to happen because the amendment that’s being passed today, as I understand it, all it does is is keep the existing Oriole lease exactly as it is intact, and extend it for 30 years. So there’s no more money other than the stadium funding bill, which is an amendment that they’re passing today that allows the Orioles access to the stadium funding bill so they’ll get access through the stadium authority to the same $600 million that’s available to the Ravens. So

Nestor J. Aparicio  13:00

hold on is the lead story here. That Angelo’s didn’t get any more than he would have bargained for, despite you not being there for a year. And Craig Tom, different people that what happened? What’s going to happen today? That’s different than Patty just signed last year when Larry Hogan was governor. Well,

Tom Kelso  13:23

there is some additional amendments that are being passed today. That creates something called a facilities use agreement. And the Orioles at various points in the future, as I understand it would have the option to terminate the existing lease and to enter into the facilities use agreement that does change some of the dynamics. And it really hinges around the development agreement. That was part of the MOU that created a lot of heartburn for a lot of people where it appeared that the state was giving the Orioles, the warehouse and surrounding parking lots in Camden station to the Orioles for 99 years for a de minimis rent. And that did not happen. That did not happen.

Nestor J. Aparicio  14:10

Then kudos to you for work and for the people to some degree, because I know all of us. Just given that it’s the Angelo’s family given that a deal is not a deal, given that good faith has a different meaning between you and I and he and other people certainly in my case, the good there is no good faith. So I think and knowing that they’re probably not here forever. He’s probably not here forever. Whatever his father’s will state’s mother that once the the the shovel goes in the dirt down there to do whatever the Disney idea is they may or may not be a part of it, but the state is going to be a part of it. The taxpayers are going to be a part of it right the city is going to be a part of it exactly. And the owner of the baseball team, whomever that is at the time or operator would be a part of that. And one

Tom Kelso  15:01

of the things Nestor that I really wanted to make clear to people, because my efforts are not against the Orioles. And they’re certainly not against the Governor and I congratulate the governor and Chairman Thompson and the leadership of the stadium authority. John Angelos and the entire Orioles organization, on getting something done today, because this is meaningful to even if you’re just extending the existing lease for 30 years, is is that you know that there’s a commitment by the Orioles organization to remain in Baltimore for a long period of time. And that doesn’t mean that some of the things that the oracles were asking for may not get done in the future, it just means is is that they’re going to be subject to further study and further approvals. As it should be as it should be correct. That’s exactly right. So you’re

Nestor J. Aparicio  15:51

happy today in that you have, I mean,

Tom Kelso  15:56

it wasn’t just me, it was a lot of people. I

Nestor J. Aparicio  15:58

saw Michael Bryant fund the other day, he did the show for curio wellness. And he said some kind words about you. I don’t remember who was on the air off the air. But he mentioned because I I mentioned you were doing the show today. And he’s like, Oh, good, good guy like. And I think to myself, like, I’ve gotten to know you this much. You ran the thing for eight years, and I barely knew your name. You have said flippantly to me, I would never have come on your show when I had this role. Because like, it just wasn’t what I do. And Craig Thompson has said he will be on the show. And I’ll get to ask him questions. But your passion for this, and how it sort of intersected with my desire to have the truth told that there is a truth teller in this kudos to you. But I did you get what you felt was fair for the people. And I guess more than that is if this is basically sort of kind of the same deal that was being offered a year ago. I wonder where all the spinning wheels were in this last year that, you know, to Angelo’s when did we when the governor went, well, everybody wins when the team stays here, and we have a full stadium and have a competitive environment and 10 years, we’re all winners. When this goes, well, we’re losers. If the Angelo’s family walks away with all of the money and leaves behind a shell of a mess, which is certainly plausible and possible, based on everything I know. But this really is about the agenda of the city and the people and you’ve

Tom Kelso  17:26

Well, that’s correct, and the state and the state taxpayers. And, you know, when I started to approach people in the media about and started speaking out, it was not to criticize the governor or not to criticize John angelos, it was really to try to put sunlight on what it was they were talking about and what it means. And

Nestor J. Aparicio  17:46

we’re coming to you and say, Why didn’t it get done? Right? Like literally a time you worked at? And what how could shoddy like to do that? How did it not get done? And I’m sure that was a big part of your life? Well, it

Tom Kelso  17:56

was a big part of my life. I mean, when I was first appointed as chairman of the stadium authority in March of 2015, I can do math. And I realized that if Larry Hogan was reelected in 2018, and I was still chairman of the stadium authority is is that the Orioles lease would expire during my term. And so we started when I say we I mean, myself and the executive director of the stadium authority. His name is Mike friends. And I congratulate Mike today on it’s a great day. I’ve had lunch with Mike. Hi, Mike. Hey, Mike. And that we started in approaching Peter Angelos about trying to start a discussion around a new lease. And he was very polite, but he would just continue to stiff arm us, he would always ask at the end of every meeting, well, why would I want to do that? And I would laugh. And I would think well, I just explained it to you, but

Nestor J. Aparicio  18:53

we financed if the citizens to know that you’re gonna we wanted

Tom Kelso  18:57

a new lease and but I never lost faith that we would get one. And even when, you know, the governor, the governor more was elected. And, you know, he elected to appoint Chairman Thompson. I mean, I never doubted that we would get a lease. The most important thing though is is to get a lease that is good for the taxpayers and the citizens. And where I got really upset was, and it was very clear in the MOU and the press package that went out with it is is that under the MOU is is that the role of the Maryland stadium authority was going to essentially be abolished as it related to Oriole Park. And what people don’t understand is is it’s the stadium authority that stands in the shoes of the taxpayers. And so when public officials, Governor more included would say well, I’m trying to protect the taxpayers. I would think well then you need to be sure that the role of the stadium authority remains unchanged be because it day in and day out, it’s the staff and the team of people at the Maryland stadium authority that are protecting state dollars and protecting the state assets. And so the reason Oriole Park looks like Oriole Park today is is because of the job that the stadium authority has done since the stadium was completed in 1992. I’ve pointed

Nestor J. Aparicio  20:20

that out as they’re ripping down Arlington baseball stadium. They’re replacing stadia I go into these football stadiums that were built that were that are no good that that Soldier Field thing that they the hatchet job they did.

Tom Kelso  20:34

Field it was built around the same time. m&t Bank Stadium, awful,

Nestor J. Aparicio  20:38

right. So all of these places that were built 30 years ago, if you love Camden Yards, if you liked your football experience, if you like the $480 million worth of gold plated bathrooms that the ravens are taking this money and doing with next week. And if you liked those things, then you like oversight, because the Ravens in the Orioles, if they were just tenants in these buildings, and had no stake in the building, it would be like someone who rents a house that has no stake in their house, right? That’s

Tom Kelso  21:07

exactly right, we have to remember is is that, you know, the teams are making an investment. And it sounds all the time, the way the media portrays it is is that the teams are just taking money from the state for stadiums or stadium improvements. But that’s not really true. This, the teams contribute economically a lot to the state in terms of direct revenues at the stadium at the stadiums, but also the income taxes that are paid by the team owners, by the teams, by the businesses that are associated with the teams and also by the players. So you know this, this is a lot of revenue that goes to the staffing a

Nestor J. Aparicio  21:51

sports team in downtown Baltimore is good football.

Tom Kelso  21:56

It’s good for Baltimore, really good for the state of Maryland. And if you want to be a major league city, you need to have major league teams that are there.

Nestor J. Aparicio  22:06

Well look at let me know, Christmas night. We’re the center of the universe, our football, yes. Right. I mean, everybody in the country is gonna be watching something.

Tom Kelso  22:13

We’re gonna be in San Francisco. But but but our our we’re on display, you know, we’re on display, but New Year’s Eve, Baltimore is on display when when Miami is in town. And so, you know, these are really important assets of the city and the state, and they are economic contributors. And the other thing is, I think it’s important is that, you know, when the Ravens went out and talked about what they’re doing, to improve m&t Bank Stadium, as part of this stadium funding bill, when they went out and talked about it last week, there’s they’re selling the hype, right. Which they should be because they’re most worried about the things that bring fans to the stadium as frequently as possible. But what they don’t tout, okay, because it’s just not a big sale item is as all of the infrastructure work that’s also going on out of that $480 million. That’s designed to extend the useful life of that stadium as long as possible, because 600 million or 480 million sounds expensive, but it’s a lot less than building a new stadium every 20 or 25 years. So when we passed the stadium funding bill in 2022, with the leadership of Governor Hogan and the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, is is that the goal was to give the teams the ability to keep those stadiums fresh from a front fan amenity standpoint. But also to make sure that the infrastructure of those stadiums is such that the useful life of those stadiums is extended, as far into the future as you can. It’s like reinvesting in your house. And so basically, you know, the it’s a combination of money that’s designed to improve the fan experience, but also to extend the useful life of the stadium counselors

Nestor J. Aparicio  24:15

here. Male stadium authority, former chair, the Maryland State Authority, we’re talking all things nuts and bolts in money. We talk about the Ravens I always want to give them two points here because Steve put hundreds of millions of dollars into upgrading stadium I don’t know the bill for the left field wall and the baseball stadium has come to the people. I’ve lost track over 30 years when I go in and say oh, there’s new this there’s new concession there’s a TV there’s a heater in the bathroom by my section before they threw me out of it now that don’t everybody sitting in the baseball stadium has had coats of paint. When I see the locker rooms I’ve been I’ve been thrown out of the locker was a media member for 17 years now. I see that they Paying things that so I see upgrades just in my own eyes and walking through. But that’s not toilets flushing, that’s not point of sale that’s not cables running through the make television work and made things function. But and that’s not upgraded kitchens where they’re making our hotdogs are our crab cakes in the stadia I’ve lost track of like, is that on the public side is that how much did the Angelo’s family put in? But I’ve always been led to believe that Steve was shoddy because the Ravens would pat themselves on the back when they would do the we’re doing this. We’re spending this we’re doing this scoreboard we’re upgrading things. The Ravens spent money on their stadium. Did the Oriole spend money on the stadium in the last 30 years? Or like, I’m trying to understand that dynamic of investing in your own rental property? Right. Right.

Tom Kelso  25:48

So the short answer is the Ravens have invested north of $250 million since 1998, when they took over the state said hundreds of million that’s a lot. Yeah, it’s a lot of money. And the Orioles have invested a lot less. And in addition is is that the Ravens built the castle, you know, their training facility, which is in Owings Mills, with some county help guide. Some county halls will throw that away. But there’s a large team investment there as well. Now and the Orioles, comparable investment is in Sarasota. Because spring training and baseball is not done locally. It’s done in warm weather climes. But I think that when you just look at it on a dollars for dollars basis is is that it sounds like it is not equal. And technically it’s not. But the two sports are not equal either. So you know, football is a completely different fan experiential model than baseball is. And that’s where I think that, you know, working with Dick Cass, and then Sashi Brown, and then their team of people at the ravens and working with John Angelos and Greg Bader, and their team of people that the Orioles is, is that, you know, I was able to learn a lot that the needs of the teams and the things that are the most important, they’re not necessarily equal. And so any ability of a baseball team to reinvest in a stadium is different than a football teams need to reinvest in a stadium. Football team has 10 games, nine games 10 games, maybe with a preseason game, maybe 11, or 12, with the postseason games, but they have to maximize that fan experience for that 10 to 12 games, well, they

Nestor J. Aparicio  27:47

had a technology problem in the stadium or technology just getting things to work back in the day, right. And

Tom Kelso  27:54

they and they need to have because the player salaries are escalating, the teams need to have pricing power every single year, they need to have people want to keep coming back to the stadium. And that’s really critical. You know, the Orioles have 81 dates, which is a different animal, it’s much more costly to have 81 thing events you have to put on every year. And, and the Orioles, you know pay a portion of that. And so it’s not exactly the same thing. And while the Orioles want their fans to have a great experience, it’s not the burden on 10 games, it’s the burden not spread over 81 games, you don’t have a national TV contract. And as that pays nearly as much in baseball, as you have in football. And so the revenue models are different. And so, you know, the ability of a football team to make that type of investment and get a return on it, I can appreciate is there. The ability of a smaller market baseball team to make that same comparable investment in a stadium is probably not as justified and for them to be able to get a return on it. And so, you know, it’s it. I never thought when I was working with each of the teams, I never felt it was really fair to judge one versus the other. Because they’re both partners of the stadium authority. They’re both partners of the state, both partners of the city. And we had to help each team figure out a way to maximize the return from their business, and that the businesses while they’re both professional sports, they’re just different businesses, different business models. And it was incumbent upon the stadium authority to understand that and to work with both team owners in a way that made them want to be in Baltimore. All of the liquidated damages provisions in the world today are not going to keep a team in your city. What’s going to keep a team in your city is is that the team owners want to stay in your city. So now The reason why we passed the stadium funding bill, we made it evergreen so that the team owners can come back to the stadium authority more than once every 30 years and get additional investment in the stadiums. So that you were always near the cutting edge of what fans expect in the best stadiums across the country.

Nestor J. Aparicio  30:21

Good time to take a break because I was about to jump into a whole other thing. Tom Kelso is your former Maryland stadium authority Chairman happy man today right happy

Tom Kelso  30:30

your mama happy man today.

Nestor J. Aparicio  30:32

You came here and you sent me and I’m blown up. It’s crazy. But I’m happy. I’m happy, right? I’m

Tom Kelso  30:36

happy. I congratulate the governor and team at the stadium authority. We’ve done a great job today.

Nestor J. Aparicio  30:41

You know, if you’re happy, I feel like I should be happy because I’ve learned to sort of trust your integrity and your honesty and all this. By the way. Wes Moore is going to be joining us Governor here we’re gonna find out his side of the story we’re going to we’re gonna hear a Craig Thompson side. Brooklyn has always been a great champion of the show and coming on Bill Ferguson has been busy, but they’re all gonna get invites. I’m gonna be fade Lee’s next Wednesday after Christmas on the 27th I have lottery tickets to give away a metaphor I got to take a break and just go through why’s your and give away some of these makes me want gingerbread cookies though snaps this from Maryland lottery friends in winter Nation. I’m trying to look serious here. I don’t want to look foolish well I’m having serious conversation serious people but I do like my bucket hat there’ll be given away the Oreo bucket hats on some night this summer as well. weathernation 866 90 nation you buy two you get to free let’s see doors I need some doors Santa please bring me doors when donation please bring me doors also our friends at Jiffy Lube multi care I really need an oil change that’s that he’s my wife does this and she’s out of town. She’s baking cookies for the holidays. I’m here wise markets. I’m gonna be doing all of our holiday shopping so ham kill Boston sauerkraut is coming to two o’clock. I hope you’re hanging out for that. We’re gonna do green bean casserole. We’re gonna talk crabcakes here. We’re wise markets. I’m using my wise rewards to get a free ham for the holidays. You could do that as well. We call these wise conversations because guys like this guy here shows up. We’re gonna continue on with all things. Stadium authority for dummies. I’m the dummy he sound Kelso former Maryland stadium authority Chairman stay with us. We’re wise markets, the Maryland crabcake tour and honey go for the holidays. We’re Baltimore positive

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