The Greatest Show on Earth will return to Baltimore by 1993, now that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has patched up its differences with the managers of the Baltimore Arena.
The Centre Group, which was given a contract to manage the Baltimore Arena in 1988, had not done business with Ringling Brothers since 1978, when the circus pulled out of the Capital Centre in Landover following a dispute with the arena's owner, Abe Pollin.
The feud ran so deep that Ringling turned its back on a quarter-century history of money-making shows in Baltimore and pulled out of the Arena when Pollin's Centre Group assumed control of the venue.
"The entire problem was a matter of economics," Allen J. Bloom, an executive vice president at Ringling, said yesterday. "They felt one way, and we felt another."
But things began to defrost this past summer when Pollin and Ringling officials met to begin to iron out their differences during the International Association of Auditorium Managers convention in Boston.
"We decided that we needed each other," said Matt Amodeo, a Centre Group spokesman.
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.
Bloom said both shows will definitely be back in Baltimore by 1993 and said he still is negotiating for a possible circus date in 1992.
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 is over, the circus will not be returning 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."