Big-budget refashioning of Baltimore Arena



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Baltimore Arena renovation Image: @RoFoArena (Twitter)

The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) (US) announced on Wednesday that it will enter into an Exclusive Negotiating Privilege (ENP) and Right of Entry agreement with the Oak View Group (OVG) to negotiate a lease and management agreement for the City-owned arena, known as the Baltimore Arena (now Royal Farms Arena). OVG was one among three respondents to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by BDC on behalf of the City of Baltimore.

‘SouthBmOre.com’ stated that under the proposal, OVG and their arena partners, Thirty-Five Ventures, founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman, will pick up the tab of the arena’s total refurbishment, which is estimated to cost at least $150 million.

Baltimore (Maryland, US)-headquartered the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) is a nonprofit corporation and public-private agency contracted by the City of Baltimore to promote economic development.

The 14,000-capacity Royal Farms Arena (Baltimore Arena) is an arena located in Baltimore (US). The Arena is located about a block away from the Baltimore Convention Center on the corner of Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place. It is also only a short distance from the Inner Harbor. It seats 11,100 and can be expanded up to 14,000, depending upon the event.

New York (US)-based Thirty-Five Ventures is a startup founded by basketball star Kevin Durant that invests in tech companies.

Stated BDC, “Today’s announcement is a major milestone in realizing the City’s long-sought goal of having a state-of-the-art, modern arena in downtown. The project will serve as a key anchor on downtown’s West side and help drive further investment and development in the area.”

OVG is a global sports and entertainment company founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in 2015. OVG is leading the redevelopment and operations of the 17,459-capacity Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle (Washington, US), home for the new National Hockey League (NHL) team Seattle Kraken, the 17,113-capacity UBS Arena in Belmont (New York, US), residence of the NHL team New York Islanders, the 10,000-capacity Moody Center in Austin (Texas, US) for the University of Texas, the 10,000-capacity Coachella Valley Arena in Palm Desert (California, US), and an arena development project in Manchester, UK.

The BDC said the goal of the RFP was to “solicit proposals from experienced respondents in facilities development, management, promotion, production, and presentation of live entertainment for the Baltimore Arena.”

‘SouthBmOre.com’ further stated that the City was looking for a developer to “Reimagine, redevelop and reposition the Arena in its current location, maximize direct and indirect benefits of the Arena to the City, activate street-level facades, support the convention center operations and the broader tourism industry, achieve the highest quality of architectural exterior/interior design, catalyze investment in the surrounding downtown area, ensure timely delivery while minimizing operational impact, raise and invest private capital for the complete redevelopment, demonstrate design excellence, and provide employment and training opportunities for Baltimore City residents.”

The BDC declined to mention a capacity of the new project and said the garage will remain on site. Additional details will be revealed at the Baltimore City Planning Department Urban Design and Architectural Advisory Panel in the future.

Remarked Colin Tarbert, President and CEO of BDC, “OVG and Thirty-Five Ventures’ passion for Baltimore combined with exemplary experience in the design, development and operation of sports and entertainment venues makes the team a clear choice to reimagine the Baltimore Arena. OVG and Thirty-Five Ventures’ major private investment is a strong endorsement that Baltimore remains a strong market for economic growth.”

OVG and Thirty-Five Ventures said it is committed to achieving 45 percent minority and women-owned business participation during construction and maintaining that participation rate through ongoing operations. In addition, the partners’ General Contractor, Clark Construction, will prioritize the hiring of City residents and provide pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeship programs.

Commented Leiweke, “We’re pleased to enter into exclusive negotiations with BDC to revitalize the Baltimore Arena. Baltimore has such a rich music and sports history, and we look forward to working with the Mayor, BDC and the community to elevate live entertainment in the City and make the Baltimore Arena a premier destination for the biggest artistes and events in the world.”

Durant and Kleiman exulted, “We’re thrilled that the Baltimore Development Corporation has selected our partners at Oak View Group for this groundbreaking renovation. 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 myriad sports and entertainment opportunities to life in Baltimore.”

Enthused District 11 Councilman Eric Costello, “I am thrilled that the City has identified, through a competitive process, a highly capable firm to renovate this critically important Baltimore cultural facility. Keeping the former Baltimore Civic Center, now the Baltimore Arena, on the West side of Baltimore’s downtown is incredibly important as it supports so many other redevelopment efforts in that area. Doing so with private dollars is clearly a huge win for the City.”

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott put in, “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. 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.”

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