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Greater Baltimore Committee Studying Future Of Royal Farms Arena

June 19, 2019
Amanda Yeager | Baltimore Business Journal

Multiple studies throughout the past decade have considered what the future might bring for Baltimore's 57-year-old Royal Farms Arena. Now the Greater Baltimore Committee is taking up the issue.

A GBC workgroup is looking at the feasibility of renovating the aging venue at 201 W. Baltimore St. as well as the financial considerations that would come with such a project. The group will also look at the option of building a new arena.

It's the latest push to figure out what to do with the arena, which continues to rank among the top venues of its size in the region despite its outdated infrastructure. GBC CEO Donald C. Fry and others say the arena has the potential to draw even more people and bigger events -- boosting tourism in the city -- if it's modernized.

"We'd certainly like to see it be a very active center of engagement for people in the entire region and have more activities that will bring more vibrancy to the downtown," Fry said. "Currently, it's doing pretty well -- but that doesn't mean if we don't take steps soon it's not going to be challenged by other arenas around the country."

He said the group would consider a range of possibilities for the arena and is preparing an analysis of multiple proposals "in anticipation that a new or renovated arena will become a priority project in the near future among elected Baltimore leaders."

The group held its first official meeting in April 2018 and is chaired by Bill McCarthy, the executive director of Catholic Charities and a GBC board member. Fry said the group is made up of about a dozen GBC members and has invited other stakeholders to make presentations about the arena.

The 14,000-seat arena has already been the subject of multiple studies commissioned by the Maryland Stadium Authority. Consulting firm KPMG LLP completed a market and economic analysis of the venue in 2007. A 2012 report by Crossroads Consulting Services LLC that looked at expanding the nearby Baltimore Convention Center also included a limited market assessment of the arena, and the same firm took a new look at the arena as part of an updated convention center study released last summer. 

The 2018 report recommended against incorporating a new arena as part of plans for the convention center's expansion, citing the costliness of the proposal. Consultants wrote that an update to the venue will likely have to be structured as a public-private partnership.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Issue 255: June/July 2019