THESE ARE EXCITING times for Baltimore. The Convention Center expansion is complete. Excavation for the new Ravens stadium is under way, and the mayor wants to demolish the Baltimore Arena and erect a multi-sports complex north of the baseball park.
Amid this activity, an intense but quiet debate is going on concerning the hotel space Baltimore City needs to accommodate out-of-town visitors to these facilities and other tourist attractions.
Hilton Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts and the Cordish Co. all have expressed interest in building upscale hostelries near the Inner Harbor. But none of these is the 1,200-room hotel, connected by a walkway to the Convention Center, that Carroll R. Armstrong, president of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, wants to see.
The competing possibilities are evidence of Baltimore's tourism appeal. Toward that end, Baltimore Development Corp. commissioned a study of the city's hotel needs that should soon be complete. That study will help answer the question of whether the city must have a 1,200-room hotel and whether it should be located on the Pratt Street site west of the Convention Center, as the mayor has suggested.
It is a given that the aging and undersized Baltimore Arena should be replaced. It should also be clear that any publicly financed multi-sports arena must be placed in transportation-accessible downtown with its proximity to restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues, not in the suburbs.
Pub Date: 10/20/96