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Friday, July 1, 2022

A New Beginning for The Baltimore Arena

On June 9, 2022, Oak View Group (OVG), the largest sports and entertainment venue developer and financing company, announced in a groundbreaking ceremony that renovations are underway for the transformation of the 60-year-old Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. Once renovations are complete, the arena will help promote further investments and traffic for the downtown area. 

OVG’s projected cost redevelopment is an estimated $200 million dollar privately financed investment. Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG, stressed more than once “we pay for everything…there are zero risks to taxpayers in the city.” Pharrell Williams, the famous musician, well-known for his song “Happy,” has recently been named as a new equity investor in the project. In addition, other investors include The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), Fundamental Advisors, Thirty Five Ventures (35V), and Maryland native and NBA player, Kevin Durant. Leiweke continued, “we are ultimately committed to making sure that we build a building that becomes the heart and soul of downtown Baltimore.” 

OVG also partnered with a Black-owned bank, Harbor Bank of Maryland, for the financing of this project. “When entities like OVG bank Black, they demonstrate their support for real economic equity by supporting the institutions that are at the front lines of this country’s racial wealth gap,” National Black Bank co-founder, Brandon Comer said, according to a press release.

The newly renovated arena will provide a financial boost for Baltimore’s economy. Hoping that renovations will advocate for more events like those from his childhood to occupy the arena, Mayor Brandon M. Scott recalled moments from his childhood when he visited the Baltimore-based arena to watch monster trucks, the circus, and concerts. Once refurbishments are completed the arena is expected to accommodate 14,000 guests. “Oak View Group has laid out a bold plan that will not only redevelop the Baltimore Arena but serve as an anchor to completely revitalize our downtown community for generations to come,” the mayor stated, according to a press release.  

Oak View Group announces the beginning of construction on the $200 million dollar renovation plan for the Baltimore Arena. Mayor Brandon M. Scott reflected on memories from his childhood as he discussed the future of the Arena. 
Photo credit:  J.J McQueen

The renovations will also serve as a beneficial boost to the Baltimore sports scene in Baltimore. According to The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) website, “Men’s and Women’s basketball tournament will extend its run in Baltimore for 2024 and 2025 following a successful first year in-person in Baltimore in 2022.” The arena is set to be completed by February 2023, just in time for the CIAA’s return to the Baltimorean staple. 

Clark Construction Group, a construction firm that has completed over 70 different projects for Baltimore, has agreed to administer the construction of the Baltimore Arena. During the duration of the groundbreaking ceremony construction workers could be overheard working on renovations. Leiweke joked with the audience about not stopping the construction process to conduct the ceremony. The project will provide an ample amount of employment for the area over the next 12 months. Upon completion in February 2023, the arena will have added seating, upgraded concession, LED lighting, exterior changes, and more. 

Currently known as Royal Farms Arena, the name is subject to change at a later date. “Baltimore Development Corporation, the city’s economic development agency, is currently looking for a new corporate suitor to sell the naming rights to,” according to Fox Baltimore. The mayor spoke briefly during the ceremony about the name change and the plan to terminate the agreement between the arena and Royal Farms, the privately-owned convenience store based in Baltimore. The arena has been named Royal Farms Arena since 2014 in a “$1.25 million, five-year naming agreement,” according to The Daily Record.

Located at 201 W. Baltimore Street, The Baltimore arena is set to be fully refurbished by February 2023. The arena will promote traffic to the downtown area with a variety of events like concerts, tournaments, NBA exhibition games, UFC, and more.

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