Team named to study convention center expansion, possible new arena

The Maryland Stadium Authority has approved a team to explore expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center as well as construction of a new downtown arena and hotel.

The study will assess what combination of elements is feasible — a convention center expansion, hotel and new venue to replace Royal Farms Arena — and how they might fit together.

The team includes Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore design firm; LMN Architects of Seattle; Clark Construction of Bethesda; Populous, a Kansas City firm that designed Oriole Park at Camden Yards; and Perkins Eastman, a New York-based design firm.

The study is not to exceed $460,000 and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

For years, officials at Visit Baltimore, which oversees the city's convention business, have called on the city and state to improve the convention center, citing the need to compete with bigger facilities in other cities.

The issue was brought into greater focus by the 2013 decision by organizers of Otakon to move their growing anime convention to a larger center in Washington, D.C., after 2016.

In a more ambitious proposal, the convention center expansion would be combined with a new arena and hotel. The arena opened in 1962 as the Baltimore Civic Center and seats between 10,000 and 15,000, depending on the event.

Funding for the study is being provided by public and private sources, including the city and state. Based on the recommendations, a second phase of the study may be authorized later.

The study team was approved by the stadium authority at its Tuesday meeting.

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