With Baltimore grappling with this issue for years, we now have what appears to be a solid plan for Royal Farms Arena renovations backed by Oak View Group and Thirty Five Ventures.
The choice has always been between Royal Farms Arena renovations and building a new arena/convention center elsewhere in the city, as you can see by the list of related stories at the end of this story. Opening in 1962 as the Baltimore Civic Center, Royal Farms Arena was home to the Baltimore Bullets (NBA) until that team’s move to Landover, MD. Since then the 14,000-capacity arena has played host to a variety of minor-league sports as well as hosting a number of high-profile concerts and events. But its utility in this modern era has been limited, and it’s been clear changes were needed to compete.
Enter Oak View Group and Thirty Five Ventures. Oak View Group is developing multiple arenas across the country, including Climate Pledge Arena, set to open as home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken in 2021, and UBS Arena, to open this fall as the new home of the New York Islanders (NHL). Thirty Five Ventures is an investment firm led by NBA star Kevin Durant and his partner/manager, Rich Kleiman. There is a local tie here: Durant is a native of Prince George’s County.
“We’re thrilled that the Baltimore Development Corporation has selected our partners at Oak View Group for this groundbreaking renovation,” Durant and Kleiman said via press release. “OVG has proven its reputation for innovation in the venue space, and we’re looking forward to working with them to bring Baltimore Arena and a myriad sports and entertainment opportunities to life in Baltimore.”
Under the plan chosen after the Baltimore Development Corp. solicited RFPs, Oak View Group and Thirty Five Ventures will invest at least $150 million toward a new Royal Farms Arena design, featuring overhauled concourses, new suites, new concessions, a new exterior featuring plenty of glass, and new seating. After the renovation the pair will manage and lease the revamped facility.
“Today, I’m pleased to have given BDC the go-ahead to enter into final and exclusive negotiations with OVG, which is an important key step toward realizing the long-awaited transformation of the iconic and historic Baltimore Arena into a world-class entertainment venue,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said in a press statement. “The project will catalyze the reopening of Baltimore’s tourism and hospitality market and reposition Baltimore as a destination for top-tier national events and live entertainment. I look forward to being briefed on BDC‘s final negotiations and deal terms.”
RELATED STORIES: Team to Study Baltimore Arena/Convention Center; Convention Center/Arena Back on the Table in Baltimore; Cordish proposes new Baltimore Inner Harbor arena; Arena Visit: Royal Farms Arena