Baltimore Issues RFP for a Redevelopment or Replacement of the Baltimore Arena

| November 30, 2020

Last week, the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), on behalf of the City of Baltimore, issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Royal Farms Arena. BDC is seeking written proposals from qualified respondents for the redevelopment and management of the City-owned property located at 201 West Baltimore St.

BDC stated in a press release that “the goal of redevelopment is either a major renovation of the existing structure or a newly constructed arena at the current site. BDC’s goal is to create a major transformation of the existing Arena into a first-class, modern, entertainment and event venue through either renovation or new construction.”

The property is bounded by Baltimore, Howard, and Lombard Streets and Hopkins Plaza. It is within a couple blocks from Baltimore Convention Center, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus and Medical Center. It is also adjacent to the former Holiday Inn Baltimore – Inner Harbor site that was sold in October.

The RFP offering includes the surface parking adjacent to the arena along Hopkins Plaza. BDC will also consider proposals for the City-owned parking garage directly south of the property, but this is not required. Alternative sites for the redevelopment of the arena will not be reviewed.

The Royal Farms Arena is located within an Enterprise Zone which provides employee tax credits, and an Opportunity Zone which offers federal tax incentives. Public assistance will not be offered by Baltimore City outside of the tax incentives.

All proposals must be received by BDC no later than 12 p.m. on Thursday, February 25, 2021.

The Royal Farms Arena was constructed in 1961 and was previously the home to the Baltimore Bullets, Baltimore Blast, Baltimore Skipjacks, and additional indoor football and lacrosse teams. It has taken on different names including the Baltimore Civic Center, Baltimore Arena, and 1st Mariner Arena.

It has a capacity of 14,000 for concerts and up to 12,289 for basketball, hockey, or soccer. It lacks the size or modern amenities to be the home of an NBA or NHL team and it has not hosted the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments since 1995. Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said his  teams would play more games in Baltimore if the City replaces the Baltimore Arena.

Baltimore has seen many proposals for a new arena in recent decades, but none have moved forward. With events currently halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BDC Managing Director of Marketing & External Relations Susan Yum said it has become an ideal time to look into renovating the current arena. Arena management was previously worried a renovation that took the arena offline for a period of time would hurt the arena’s momentum and hurt its ability to stay on the yearly schedule for certain events.

Screenshots from Google Maps

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