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Baltimore arena plan shifts to waterfront

Baltimore SkipjacksThe search for the site of a new Baltimore arena has shifted from the current 1st Mariner Arena site and to an expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center, where a new 18,500-seat facility is now envisioned by city officials.

The nonprofit Greater Baltimore Committee is exploring arena options after officials concluded 1st Mariner Arena coudn’t be expanded in a cost-effective manner and needed replacing. At first the plan was to tear down the existing arena and tap into the private sector for a mixed-use development with the new arena at the core. But private-public partnerships are hard to come by these days, and the current arena site is pretty small, anyway.

So the committee has shifted its sites to the existing Convention Center site, where a hotel could be torn down to make way for a new arena. Besides being more scenic and larger, the Convention Center site has some other definite advantages: it would allow the existing convention-center footage to be doubled, and it could be built in such a way to bring new retail and a larger hotel to the mix.

An arena of that size would also allow bigger concert tours to hit Baltimore, as well as NCAA tourneys; we would presume the AHL would show some interest as well.

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