Ringling circus agrees to come back to Arena

January 03, 1991|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Evening Sun Staff

The operators of the Baltimore Arena have settled their differences with owners of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum TC Bailey Circus, allowing the self-proclaimed Greatest Show on Earth to return to Baltimore in 1993.

The Centre Group, which received a no-bid contract to manage the money-losing Baltimore Arena in 1988, had not done business with Ringling Brothers since 1978, when the circus pulled out of the Capital Centre following a dispute with the center's owner, Abe Pollin.

The feud ran so deep that Ringling Brothers, turned its back on a quarter-century history of money making shows in Baltimore and immediately pulled out of the Arena when Pollin's Centre Group assumed control of the venue.

But the feud was de-iced this summer when Pollin and Ringling president, Kenneth Feld, met and ironed out their differences during the International Association of Auditorium Managers convention in Boston.

"The reason for the decision was obviously an economic one," Matt Amodeo, a Centre Group spokesman said today. "We decided that we needed each other."

In addition to handling the circus, the Ringling group controls the Disney World on Ice, another popular show that was pulled from the Arena when the Centre Group assumed the building's management.

Since the shows left Baltimore, the Arena three times has hosted the Moscow Circus, a spectacular show that initially drew large crowds.

"Moscow did very well at first, but this past year business was down," Amodeo said. "It didn't seem to have the sex appeal that it had during the past two years."

Amodeo said it's uncertain whether the Moscow Circus would return to Baltimore because the troupe has returned to the Soviet Union where the circus is being redesigned.

Amodeo said that although the long-standing feud with Ringling Brothers is over, the circus would not return to the Capital Centre. "It never did that well at the Capital Centre," Amodeo said. "And it is very successful at the D.C. Armory. They seem to have found a niche there."

The ice show, meanwhile, will come to both the Arena and the Capital Centre, Amodeo said. Exact dates, however, have yet to be worked out, he said.

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