Rash Field Redevelopment Seeks Liquor License and $1-Million Bond from Maryland General Assembly

| March 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

As the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore (WPOB) moves toward starting construction this year on the long-awaited redevelopment of the Inner Harbor’s Rash Field, the organization is hoping for the passage of select bills at the ongoing Maryland General Assembly. One bill would allow for new liquor licenses at Rash Field and West Shore Park. A bond bill was also submitted for $1 million in funding towards the renovation.

As WPOB seeks an additional $1 million from the State of Maryland, it has already secured $10 million in funding from the City of Baltimore for the Rash Field redevelopment and $2 million from the State of Maryland. In 2016-2017, WPOB hoped to get $2 million from the State of Maryland, but was only awarded $1 million. “We were happy to receive $1 million,” said WPOB President Laurie Schwartz. “This year we are happy to be back to get that other $1 million.”

WPOB is encouraging supporters of the project to email District 46 representatives Senator Bill Ferguson, Delegate Brooke Lierman, Delegate Luke Clippinger, and Delegate Robbyn Lewis to encourage the passage of the bill.

WPOB recommends supporters say in a letter: “Hundreds of Marylanders have contributed their own money to make our vision for Rash Field Park possible. The State of Maryland should do its part, too. While you have many priorities to consider, your vote for Rash Field is a vote for the thousands of families from across Baltimore that will enjoy a safe and central place to play. Please support Waterfront Partnership’s bond bill request of $1 million to Rash Field Park.”

Private fundraising has been underway for the Rash Field redevelopment, but WPOB has not yet announced how much has been raised. The entire project is expected to cost more than $20 million and Schwartz noted that Phase One is close to being funded. Phase One is expected to begin construction in the fourth quarter of this year.

Phase One will renovate the western side of the park with a redeveloped pavilion with a café, outdoor patio, overlook, bathrooms, shade structure, and amphitheater seating; a skate park called Jake’s Skate Park; a children’s nature park; a children’s playground; and new plants and landscaping. These new features will replace a small parking lot (not the one designated for the Maryland Science Center), a green space, a brick patio with a sandbox, and the western edge of the concrete bleachers.

The café will be “an amenity to the park first and foremost,” said Schwartz. The interior will have room for about 20 to 30 tables. Schwartz said it will not be a full-service restaurant or kitchen, but likely serve quicker items like paninis.

On the west side of the pavilion, a shade structure will cover amphitheater-style seating that will face the children’s play areas. Schwartz said this is so parents can watch their kids in the shade.

Construction on Phase one is expected to take 12-18 months.

On a 2016 ballot referendum, Question 8 passed which allowed for two small cafes with liquor licenses for West Shore Park and Rash Field. WPOB is now working with the State to enable this license. Once the bill is passed, WPOB will then work with the community on a memorandum of understanding and The Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City (BLLC) to approve the new liquor license. 

One liquor license will go to the pavilion café at Rash Field. WPOB does not yet have any plans for the liquor license at West Shore Park.

Schwartz called the liquor license for Rash Field a “supporting component of the cafe.” She added, “it can be a great addition to the park that can keep people there longer. People can enjoy a glass of wine while visiting the harbor or a beer after a hot day of beach volleyball.”

The eastern section of the park was built as a stadium for Southern High School (now Digital Harbor High School) athletics in 1975, but Southern began using different fields several years later. The concrete track and cement bleachers remain, and the former grass field has been the home to Baltimore Beach Volleyball for the last 19 years. It also serves as a memorial for the Pride of Baltimore and as an open green space that was once the home of a trapeze school.

In Phase Two, this section will become a reorganized seven-court volleyball area adjacent to the pavilion and café, a large lawn that will be used for youth sports and events, a game lawn, a shade lawn, a repositioned Pride of Baltimore memorial, and a myriad of sloped paths that will replace the bleachers and transition the change in grade from Key Hwy. to the ground level of the park. Plans for Phase Two will continue to develop. WPOB has not set a timeline for this second phase and is hoping progress on the first phase will boost fundraising for the project.

WPOB is working with Mahan Rykeil on the park design, Gensler on the pavilion design, and Grindline on the skatepark design.

Ben Hyman serves as the project manager of the Rash Field redevelopment.

Ideas for the redevelopment of Rash Field first began to arise in the early 2000s and this plan began to move forward in early 2016. WPOB is looking forward to finally making the redevelopment a reality.

“We are certainly excited. We are seeing funders and the community enthusiastic as we get closer,” said Schwartz.

Screenshot courtesy of Google Maps


Renderings from RashField.org

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.