Every single day I open my curtain and look at the now First Mariner Arena, Baltimore Street side. Not that my view is any better of the old girl because her better days have passed on by. Now I open the Sun and find an article on the front page on proposed sites and developers for a new arena. My first thought is they really need to build it big. Not just to lure a major league sports franchise like Arena Football, Hockey, NBA, (see Seattle Sonics), etc., but to have some decent musical acts actually come here and play two or three shows. I won’t go to the Verizon Center in DC for a show. I’d rather go up to Philly and see a major act like the Eagles, Van Halen, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice to see them here instead of going 45-90 minutes to points north and south?
Location, Location, Location. Next question is who has the best site? I have to say looking at the land use projections and ease of access off of I-95 the Port Covington location or the Boston Street location look ok to me. I think an arena on Boston Street would just finish off the revitalization of that entire area. No way would I even consider the Lexington Market or points north off of MLK Blvd. Those areas are just too far gone and any ride on the light rail will reinforce that reality. South Baltimore is an interesting geographic location and may indeed spur some real long term growth in that area.
Who better to build this structure than Ed Hale? I can’t think of anyone else who is more worthy but I really don’t know all the players in this deal. I think he is politically savvy enough to get the public and private funding in excess of 200 million dollars to get this thing done. After all he dumped millions into this old building down here and shaped her up to at least keep it useable for the events we do have in Baltimore. There is no way the current site can be reused to build a new structure. The Blast and other acts that come here every year would be dark for a projected two years. That makes no economic sense to me and would really be a blow to the MISL and its leading year after year attendance machine the Blast. The Du Burns arena is just not meant for them to play in. In fact someone may want to look at that structure as it’s looking pretty bad as well. We need to keep this structure in place until the new one opens up. I do believe however the next project for that building or its space could be a real benefit to helping the west side make some real progress towards revitalization.
So I’m voting today 11/14/07 for Ed Hale and the Boston Street location. I think he has the vision, political savvy, and time honored commitment to make this happen.