What’s Going on With the New Arena?

April 15, 2009 |

What’s going on with the new arena?

It was about this time last year, when a flurry activity broke out surrounding the possibility of building a new arena in Baltimore.  The debate became pretty heated for a few months about not only the feasibility of a new building, but also the location, cost and who would be financing the project.  In order to understand where things may stand now, let’s take a look at what’s happened in the past two years or so.

1st Mariner Arena opened way back in 1962.  It has hosted countless events over the years and has been home to several professional sports organizations.  However, its aging structure and outdated amenities have generated a lot of talk about a new building.  In November 2007, it was reported that city was considering eight possible locations for a new Arena.  They were

      1. The current arena site
      2. Penn Station Lot
      3. Eutaw Street and MLK Blvd.
      4. Lexington Market
      5. Gateway South (Below M&T Bank Stadium)
      6. Westport
      7. Port Covington
      8. Canton

It would seem that the most logical location would be at Gateway South.  The area is already equipped with the infrastructure to handle increased volumes of traffic and MTA passengers as it is located right next to the stadiums.

In late July of the last year, they city decided the new Arena would be build where the current building stands.  This would mean the city would have to go without an arena at all for at a minimum of 3-4 years once implosion and construction began.  This would have a tremendous economic impact on the city.  According to the 1st Mariner website, the building attracts over 800,000 patrons and approximately 120 events a year.  Surely, all the people who visit the building, fans, performers, athletes, employees, etc are pumping countless dollars into the surrounding businesses.  Every business in the downtown area from restaurants to parking garages would in one way or another be affected by the absence of the Arena.   What would happen to the Blast, Ringling Brothers, Disney, WWE, Monster Jam, all the concerts, and every other event held in the building.  There is no other facility in the area capable of holding these events on a regular basis until the new building is finished.  Building the new arena in place of the current one would mean the city would be starting from scratch once again to prove itself a worth destination for all of these events.  Apparently, I’m not the only person who thinks this idea stinks.

Last July, the Sun quoted Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale as saying “I don’t like it, and no one has given me a good rationale yet…I would have liked to have had the arena in Canton, but there were other sites that would also have been OK. But you can’t just tear down the arena. I don’t understand this decision”.

It makes absolutely no sense for the city to be without and arena for an extended period of time.  Personally, I’d rather just stick what what we have, than have to do without for the better part of half a decade.

In December, it was announced that four development groups would be vying for the project.   Each coming up with designs for the building.  The Sun had stated that the city was expected to choose a developer within the next month.  Since then, all has been quiet on the new arena front.  A little too quiet if you ask me.  It could be the economy putting things on hold, but I think something else is going on.  Hopefully, they are working on a compromise that would allow for the new building to be built in a different location so all of the city does not miss out on all the previously mentioned events.

I want to know what all of you think about the new arena.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss what should happen with the new arena.