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Plank shares ideas for new Under Armour campus

First conceptual drawings of new campus shared by Under Armour

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank made the case for a new headquarters campus to investors, sharing ideas for manufacturing facilities, innovation labs and sports fields that would go on land he owns in Port Covington.

But he kicked off the firm's "investor day" Wednesday by highlighting the awkwardness of the growing company's current setup.

"It is great to have all of you here at Under Armour," he said. "In order to get here, we forced you to walk past a freight train and walk by a tank. So, with that you've already demonstrated your commitment to the company."

Plank said the company needs the space to accommodate growth and attract talent.

He spent more than $100 million amassing land in Port Covington and Westport to give the Baltimore-based sports apparel brand room to grow. (The company also acquired the land and building that houses The Baltimore Sun's printing presses, which the newspaper has leased back.)

As Under Armour has seen its sales rise, its workforce around the world has grown 35 percent in the past two years, reaching more than 11,000, he said. The average employee age is about 30.

In Baltimore, workers occupy several buildings, with about 400 off site. About 600 are expected to move to offices being fashioned in a former Sam's Club in Port Covington starting in January.

"The time has come for us to build a better house, not just a bad-ass house — which you can count on — but one that's also going to maximize and optimize work flow," he said.

"I'm bringing the tank with me. We might bring the freight trains in the center of it also," he added to laughter.

Preliminary sketches he shared show the campus fully built out but do not show freight trains. The renderings picture buildings emblazoned with the Under Armour logo, windmills on the Patapsco River's Middle Branch, a small lake and a riverfront promenade.

Plank said the campus would include innovation labs, sports fields, manufacturing facilities, and public parks and green spaces.

Under Armour recently disclosed that it had hired Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the architectural firm behind the sleek glass Apple Stores, Microsoft founder Bill Gates' lakefront home and offices for Adobe and Pixar, to do the master plan for its new campus in South Baltimore.

The buildup of offices in Baltimore, and around the world, is expected to be the company's largest driver of increased capital expenditures over the next three years, said Brad Dickerson, its chief operating and financial officer.

Under Armour devoted roughly 4 percent of revenues to capital expenditures from 2010 to 2014. That is increasing to nearly 9 percent this year and is expected to remain about that level through 2018, Dickerson said.

The new campus is expected to occupy about 48 acres in Port Covington, spokeswoman Diane Pelkey said. That is about twice the size of the company's current site in Locust Point.

Plank, who has purchased more than 200 acres around the Middle Branch through a private real estate firm, reassured investors that his incentives are aligned with theirs.

"Any dollar I'm investing outside of Under Armour, my requirement for that investment is that it must have tangential benefit directly back to Under Armour or to Baltimore," he said.

nsherman@baltsun.com

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