City officials put out call for more arena proposals

The Baltimore Sun

The $300 million sports and entertainment venue to replace Baltimore's aging 1st Mariner Arena should be an iconic structure developed with "maximum private financial support," city officials said yesterday in a formal request for developer proposals.

State and city leaders had announced plans last month to tear down the arena and replace it with an 18,500-seat facility - one large enough to draw the biggest concerts and acts and potentially attract a professional basketball or hockey team. Officials decided to use the current site near the Inner Harbor, Baltimore Convention Center and transit lines. It is expected to be paid for largely with public money.

But "we want to see what people can show us as maximum private financing, and ... we'll see what they come back with," said M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp. The BDC announced its plans last month after reviewing seven proposals from well-known and national developers, some of which suggested other sites in the city.

The city's latest request asks for proposals from teams that would design, develop, build and operate a new arena, with an iconic design that might include ground-level shops and housing in a tower.

It is likely that each team would include an arena operator, such as 1st Mariner's current operator, SMG Corp. Officials at SMG's corporate office in Philadelphia could not be reached yesterday.

"I would hope that some of the teams that proposed before would continue their interest," Brodie said. "Now we've asked for more detail."

Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, which had submitted a proposal for an arena on the current site, will again submit a proposal, a Struever spokesman said.

Edwin F. Hale Sr., owner of the Baltimore Blast soccer team, which plays in the arena, had proposed building a new arena near his mixed-use development in Canton, a site that was rejected. Hale said yesterday that he will not submit a proposal for the existing downtown site.

The proposals are due Nov. 26, with a selection expected by next summer. The city has also requested proposals from consultants that would help the city develop a new arena. The timetable for construction would depend on when the project could get financing, Brodie said.

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