Will the Orioles and Nationals resolve their business dispute?

Maryland baseball fans may remember that the Nationals came to the area in 2005. When the team arrived, it cut into the television right fees the Orioles enjoyed from MASN, which is the predominant network that airs the local teams’ games. Therefore, a deal was made that gave the Orioles the lion's share of the right fees. That contractual arrangement ended in 2012, but the Nationals have yet to see their piece of the pie. Now, it looks as though this business dispute could end up in court.

Since 2012, Major League Baseball has been pinch hitting for MASN, which still is not paying the Nationals their "fair market value" in fees. Major League Baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, held an arbitration to determine how to define fair market value. The panel determined that the Nationals were entitled to more of the broadcasting right fees, but MASN, which is owned by the Orioles, is not paying.

Considering the number and tenor of letters from each side's attorneys, it looks as if the dispute could end up in litigation. Selig is not pleased with this possibility and is warning both teams that they face harsh sanctions if this dispute is litigated. If the dispute does end up in court, it could be the first time that the business and financial details of a baseball club will be part of an open court record.

Maryland business owners may understand that this situation could lead to unforeseen ramifications, not only for the Nationals and the Orioles, but for Major League Baseball as well. Further, resorting to resolving this business dispute in court could be time-consuming and expensive. Perhaps someone will be able to step in and referee this dispute before any litigation is filed.

Source: NBC Sports, "The Nationals and Orioles dispute over TV money is about to explode", Craig Calcaterra, July 29, 2014

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