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A New Arena for Baltimore?


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#1 DJ MC

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:29 AM

http://www.baltimore... ... 8625.story
http://www.mdstad.co... ... y-2012.pdf

The Maryland Stadium Authority today released a study on a proposed expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center on the footprint of the original 1979 structure and the Sheraton Inner Harbor hotel and garage. The plan is for a new, expanded convention facility, an expanded hotel, and a 18,500-seat arena. The total cost is expected to be $900 million, with $400 million coming from the city for the convention facility. The $325 million for the arena and $175 million for the hotel would come from private sources based around Willard Hackerman, the owner of the Sheraton.

I'm very hopeful for this project. However, to be fair, I always get excited and hopeful when the subject of replacing 1st Mariner Arena with something actually, you know, good comes up. I'm a believer in the ability of Baltimore to support both high-level collegiate and international sporting events and major/high-minor professional franchises, and to bring those to the city requires something better to house them then what is in place now.
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#2 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:40 AM

This is what I wrote last May: http://baltimorespor...ife.com/?p=2503

Baltimore Receives Fantastic News

"Patience is often described as a virtue, and I can readily admit it is something that I often lack. Certainly that is the case when I have a vision for something that can be improved. One thought I (and countless others) have had for a very long-time is that Baltimore is in desperate need for a New Arena. As the proposals for a New Arena have started and stalled and started again over the past few years, I have grown tired by the process.

With the news (http://www.baltimore...0,1434961.story) from last night that the proposed downtown arena has received a private financing commitment, perhaps the axiom that good things happen to those wait has been proven true for all of us in Baltimore. Make no mistake, the plan outlined here is the absolute dream scenario for our City.

I love everything about the proposal. First, the size (18,500 seats) is ideal. Luring a team from either the National Basketball Association (NBA) or the National Hockey League (NHL) is extremely unlikely in the near-term. Both leagues are currently talking about possible contraction. However, it would be illogical for Baltimore to build a new Arena and discount any chance of obtaining a team over the course of the next 30 years. The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia has 126 Luxury Suites, the Verizon Center in D.C. has 106 Suites. With 18,500 seats, it is likely the new Arena would have a comparable amount of luxury boxes to be a suitable home for either league.

Secondly, while I had supported an earlier idea of building where the existing Arena is, this plan is better for the City as a whole. While the New Arena was under construction, 1st Mariner would stay open an allow the City to continue to receive some acts. As 1st Mariner has become profitable in recent years, this is a win. Perhaps most importantly, is that built in the proposed space and in-conjunction with Convention Center expansion – Baltimore will be able to attract the largest Conventions in the Country. The Conventions that currently by-pass our City because the Convention Center as is (and the City’s existing hotel space) is deemed not large enough. When those larger Conventions come to the City, everyone (Hotels, Restaurants, etc. etc. ) will benefit by the dollars those people spend here. It will help a City that struggles to generate revenue.

The construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards was a major turning-point for the City of Baltimore. The designers for OPACY originally suggested a stadium that would have resembled New Comiskey in Chicago. In-fact, initial proposals for the park had it being built in Lansdowne. Ms. Janet Marie Smith had the vision to build down-town, to refurbish the Warehouse and not tear that down.

That vision and the construction of OPACY is what ultimately allowed for Harbor East, and Harbor Point, along with the new construction in the Harbor, Canton, and Federal Hill. OPACY is what allowed for Art Model to envision moving his Browns from Cleveland, and the building of Ravens Stadium.

This New Arena / Convention Center Expansion / 25 Story Hotel can have a similar impact for Baltimore. While 1st Mariner has had better success in recent years, a New Arena will bring in a more regular level of National level concerts. Concerts that currently go to Washington, and skip Baltimore. A New Arena, will allow Baltimore to compete for NCAA Tournament games, along with conference tournaments (ACC, Big East, CAA, MEAC).

In addition to the link above, The Sun has an Op/Ed on the proposal you can find at: http://www.baltimore...0,7328606.story

There will always be dissenting opinions and those that think ‘as is’ is good enough. I think bolder strokes are needed, and it will be terribly disappointing if the project does not come to fruition. News of private financing for the New Arena, and Hotel (with the City and State tasked to fund the more manageable expansion of the Convention Center) is really fantastic to hear. I’ll be even more excited when we hear when construction can begin."



I want to be excited, but I will temper that excitement until the first shovel is placed in the ground.

#3 Chris B

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:28 PM

Literally 100's of "if" scenarios involving my little idea, but I started thinking about the rumored Atlantic 10 Conference expansion. While the A10 is beginning to have their conference tournament in the new Barclays Center in 2013, I think (obviously if the arena ever gets built) that the Baltimore Arena could provide a good base for the A10. With Richmond, George Mason, and VCU from the South, Xavier, Butler, Duquesne, and Dayton from the West, and the rest of the schools from the North, Baltimore would be a prime option as it would be the epicenter of the conference, despite having no schools actually in or near the city.

#4 DBean

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:13 PM

I don't know the actual plan for this, but I was wondering is there a chance that they could just renovate the arena with the location they have it now, or is it just too past its prime and better can just to have it somewhere else?
@mrbeanage

#5 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 09:24 AM

I don't know the actual plan for this, but I was wondering is there a chance that they could just renovate the arena with the location they have it now, or is it just too past its prime and better can just to have it somewhere else?


They've looked at that previously, and it is not feasible. One reason is that during the renovation, there would not be an existing space to house the events currently at the Arena. Another reason is that there is no saving of that building. Any dollars saved by renovating that space, vs. building new; would be wasted.

#6 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 09:25 AM

Literally 100's of "if" scenarios involving my little idea, but I started thinking about the rumored Atlantic 10 Conference expansion. While the A10 is beginning to have their conference tournament in the new Barclays Center in 2013, I think (obviously if the arena ever gets built) that the Baltimore Arena could provide a good base for the A10. With Richmond, George Mason, and VCU from the South, Xavier, Butler, Duquesne, and Dayton from the West, and the rest of the schools from the North, Baltimore would be a prime option as it would be the epicenter of the conference, despite having no schools actually in or near the city.


Yep, the A10 would absolutely be another conference tourney that a new Baltimore Arena would be poised to attract.

#7 DJ MC

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 11:35 AM

I don't know the actual plan for this, but I was wondering is there a chance that they could just renovate the arena with the location they have it now, or is it just too past its prime and better can just to have it somewhere else?


In most of the debates one of the possible plans was to rebuild the arena outright on the present site. However, that has the same flaws that Chris says: it would be a multi-year process that leaves the city without any type of indoor facility to hold large events. And as we know (and people who are opposed to a new arena like to talk about), the Baltimore Arena is one of the (and often the) most-profitable arenas in the country of its size. Between the concerts and the circus it brings in a lot of cash.

Even so, would you WANT to renovate it? Have you ever been inside? There's a frickin' STAGE where an entire side of seating should be! The Capitals almost had to postpone an exhibition game last fall because the ice equipment barely worked. It's a piece of crap that needs to be put out of its and our misery.

#8 NewMarketSean

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 01:33 PM

The current arena site should become a transit hub. There was a great article written about it recently, I think, by an MTA bus driver. Right now pretty much all of the transportation options in this city are scattered throughout the metro area. It would be great to have one hub where many MTA and CCC buses stop, including the light rail and metro right there or very close by. You could also get Greyhound, Bolt and MegaBus to have stations there too, instead of being scattered across the metro area like they are now.

Now all that said, the arena is old and way past its prime but I saw Muse play a concert there a few years ago and I will shocked at how well it served as a concert venue. Sound was good, sight lines were not bad...its a horrible sports venue but for music, it's not half bad.
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#9 DJ MC

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 02:11 PM

The current arena site should become a transit hub. There was a great article written about it recently, I think, by an MTA bus driver. Right now pretty much all of the transportation options in this city are scattered throughout the metro area. It would be great to have one hub where many MTA and CCC buses stop, including the light rail and metro right there or very close by. You could also get Greyhound, Bolt and MegaBus to have stations there too, instead of being scattered across the metro area like they are now.

Now all that said, the arena is old and way past its prime but I saw Muse play a concert there a few years ago and I will shocked at how well it served as a concert venue. Sound was good, sight lines were not bad...its a horrible sports venue but for music, it's not half bad.


That's the problem, though. If they wanted a concert hall, they should have built one, along with an arena. Instead they created a music-first, sports-last building to house a professional sports franchise, and it continues to haunt the city to this day.

#10 NewMarketSean

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 03:16 PM

To be fair, it was built long before pro sports took off and became the biggest reason to build a civic arena. The biggest mistake was not building a new arena in the 80's or 90's when the MSA was actually getting major projects built. Since it is still a money-maker, there was no rush to level it and build something better. Its like a family with an old car that still runs well. Should they buy a new car when the old one still runs well.

However, it always comes back to Baltimore being a dysfunctional city where projects are routinely stalled due to infighting amongst its city leaders as well as the city residents fighting to stop anything that doesn't benefit them.
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#11 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 11:05 AM

Posting in the NHL section about the Caps coming back to Baltimore next Fall, again got me thinking about all the events a new Arena could hold:

1) Conference tourneys: ACC, A10, CAA, MEAC,
2) NCAA Regional
3) HS Championships, Invitations (Catholic League, City)...
4) Something similar to the BB&T Classic... venue for Towson, UMBC, Loyola, Coppin, Morgan to bring in larger OOC opponents.
5) Obviously all current events... with a higher level of better concerts...
6) Arena Football, WNBA, etc

Sure hope these plans come to fruition.

#12 Nuclear Dish

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 02:18 PM

Don't forget the Lingerie League!!!

"Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax..."

-Walter Sobchak


#13 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 02:34 PM

Do agree that a New Arena has to be a priority over a SSS.

#14 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 02:57 PM

Do agree that a New Arena has to be a priority over a SSS.


A thousand times, yes.

#15 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:20 PM

Posting in the NHL section about the Caps coming back to Baltimore next Fall, again got me thinking about all the events a new Arena could hold:

1) Conference tourneys: ACC, A10, CAA, MEAC,
2) NCAA Regional
3) HS Championships, Invitations (Catholic League, City)...
4) Something similar to the BB&T Classic... venue for Towson, UMBC, Loyola, Coppin, Morgan to bring in larger OOC opponents.
5) Obviously all current events... with a higher level of better concerts...
6) Arena Football, WNBA, etc

Sure hope these plans come to fruition.


7) DNC/RNC conventions....Charlotte and Tampa will certainly reap some benefits from hosting those this year.

#16 DJ MC

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:10 PM

Posting in the NHL section about the Caps coming back to Baltimore next Fall, again got me thinking about all the events a new Arena could hold:

1) Conference tourneys: ACC, A10, CAA, MEAC,
2) NCAA Regional
3) HS Championships, Invitations (Catholic League, City)...
4) Something similar to the BB&T Classic... venue for Towson, UMBC, Loyola, Coppin, Morgan to bring in larger OOC opponents.
5) Obviously all current events... with a higher level of better concerts...
6) Arena Football, WNBA, etc

...

7) DNC/RNC conventions....Charlotte and Tampa will certainly reap some benefits from hosting those this year.


Absolutely. You can't tell me that the leadership in this state wouldn't kill to host the DNC in a new downtown convention center complex.

While the potential to draw a major professional indoor team has to be considered in the planning, all of the "other" events that cannot or will not come through Baltimore due to the current facility are what should drive the project forward. How much money (and prestige) would an ACC tournament bring? An NCAA tournament? A national political convention?

The circus and concerts make a lot of money already. Those events, PLUS everything else?

#17 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 02:56 PM

Has there been any recent news here?

#18 NewMarketSean

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 02:57 PM

Every now and then something pops up but nothing serious.

It will be a real shame if someone is willing to put up a large portion of their own money to build this thing and the city drops the ball on it.

I actually expect them to.
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#19 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:17 PM

Much like OPACY and M&T, if this is going to happen I think it will have to be the state that steps up to the plate. I don't see the city pulling this off.

#20 RShack

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:19 PM

That's the problem, though. If they wanted a concert hall, they should have built one, along with an arena. Instead they created a music-first, sports-last building to house a professional sports franchise, and it continues to haunt the city to this day.

Nah, that's not fair. Now is now, then was then. And back then the Civic Center was a visionary part of a very visionary phase around Charles Center. It was also a big phase of Rouse getting cranked up.

Back then, multi-purpose was a forward looking idea. It opened in the early '60's but was one of the results of a mid-50's effort of civic leaders to bring and keep life in the City, the Greater Baltimore Committee. That whole effort was the same kind of "for the greater good" thinking that got civic leaders behind the idea of buying the St. Louis Browns. Fortunately, their focus on redevelopment was way ahead of its time. By the time Charles Center happened, the City really, really needed a shot in the arm. The only reason it happened was because they started, not just noodling, but doing actual planning back in the 50's, which was way before the idea of "Urban Planning" really existed. The Inner Harbor was like Phase II of that project. It had credibility mostly because the whole Charles Center thing worked as well as it did.

Now, it is true that people could and did critique the design of the Civic Center from the get-go. Various details about it could have been better. But how much did anybody really know about arena design then? And it definitely would have been crazy to build a 17,000+ seat arena back then. Nobody went to basketball games then like they do now. Nobody could fill a concert hall then like they do now. Almost nobody had big-crowd things like they do now.
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