Maryland’s aging Baltimore Arena set for $150m renovation effort: CEG

(Intreegue Design rendering)

The 60-year-old Baltimore Arena is officially getting a makeover.

Oak View Group (OVG) held a private dedication ceremony June 9 at the city-owned arena — known as Royal Farms Arena until next February — in downtown Baltimore. The California-based development company previously said it planned to spend $150 million to rehabilitate the aging arena, which currently has a capacity of more than 14,000.

Clark Construction Group, based in Bethesda, is the general contractor for the project. The company has an office in Stadium Square in south Baltimore.

The works will improve the attractiveness of Arena

The future looks bright for the arena, WMAR-TV of Baltimore reported, with more seats, better concessions and possibly a new name on the way to the facility once construction is complete next winter.

Outside the arena, renders show a sparkling new outer shell, large, bold LED billboards, dazzling lighting and terraces to enjoy on a warm summer evening.

The interior of the facility will feature a sophisticated new look with comfortable seating, dramatic lobbies and extensive backstage. Moving the stage will allow for more lower level seating and total seating will increase from 14,000 to 16,000.

A proposal has also been put forward to close Hopkins Plaza and create a new outdoor festival area.

OVG is partnering with Thirty-Five Ventures — an investment firm linked to NBA basketball star Kevin Durant — to fund the upgrades. In return, they will lease the building for the next 30 years through an entity called Baltimore Arena Co.

The Baltimore Development Corp. issued a call for proposals to redevelop the arena in 2020, after city and state economic development leaders rejected a proposal to build a new arena on the site of the city’s convention center , concluding that the venture would be too unrealistic and taxing, the Sun reported.

The newspaper recently requested bids for the arena’s redevelopment from the Baltimore Development Corp.

Improvements to allow Arena to host more events

Along with all the physical changes that are happening, other events are also heading to the Baltimore Arena.

In late May, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) announced that its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would remain in Baltimore for at least two years, until 2025.

The Sun reported that Baltimore and the CIAA agreed to a three-year contract in January 2019 for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 tournaments, but the first-year tournaments were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Next season would have been Baltimore’s last year before the conference considered another destination.

An economic impact report produced by the CIAA and Visit Baltimore last month showed that the tournaments hosted 36,390 unique attendees over 22 games, representing a direct expense impact of $13.9 million and a total economic impact of $19.6 million.

Sports fans can also expect to see NCAA matches in the upgraded arena, as well as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) action, WMAR-TV noted.

Meanwhile, the arena naming rights are still up for grabs. This privilege does not come cheap, however, as Royal Farms reportedly paid $250,000 a year to have its name on the building.

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