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Cordish proposes new Baltimore Inner Harbor arena


Hometown developer Cordish Companies is proposing a new Baltimore Inner Harbor arena, in another attempt to provide a successor to Royal Farms Arena.

The proposal, as described by Blake Cordish, vice president of the Cordish Cos., is a $450-million, 15,000-seat venue on city-owned piers 5 and 6. Also included in the project: a new amphitheater and other elements to tie together the Cordish-owned Power Plant Live and the Harbor East development. Adam Gross of the Baltimore architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross, who designed the original Inner Harbor master plan, is on board for the waterfront arena.

Upgrading the city’s arena situation has been a goal of Baltimore officials for the last decade, and there have been several proposals emerging in recent years, including a 2008 RFP that died and a later proposal for a massive $900-million waterfront arena/convention center/hotel complex that never moved past the planning stages. Curiously, considering that the same drawbacks existed with Royal Farms Arena — it’s small (14,000 capacity), it cannot attract big-name arena acts and sports events because of capacity and technical issues — still exist today, city officials were curiously reticent about embracing the plan. (One reason why they may pass: Despite the limitations, Royal Farms Arena does turn a profit, serving some 800,000 customers annually.) From the Baltimore Sun:

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has not reviewed the plan, but is “always open to any ideas regarding a new or renovated arena,” said spokesman Kevin Harris. He said funding and potential traffic were obvious concerns….

The city, which owns the piers, does not intend to start a bidding process now to replace Royal Farms Arena, Harris said.

“We are still interested in the arena project, but would only issue [a request for proposals] if we believe there is financial viability in the marketplace,” Harris said in a statement. “To date, we have not seen that level of viability, but as the economy continues to improve, it is something BDC will continue to evaluate.”

As it stands, the proposal is still more concept than anything firm. It’s been suggested this is a legacy development for David Cordish and Cordish Cos. — but we’ll see when something more concrete comes down the pike.

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