Sites for new arena pondered Schmoke will get list of potential locations around city next month

December 12, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

In an article in yesterday's Maryland section, a sports tenant of the Baltimore Arena was incorrectly identified. In fact, the arena is home to an indoor soccer team.

The Sun regrets the error.

As plans to demolish one Baltimore sports facility -- Memorial Stadium -- get under way, city leaders are moving closer to picking a new site for another one -- a proposed 20,000-seat arena that could be home to a professional basketball or hockey team.

Next month, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will be presented with a list of potential sites around the city for an arena that would replace the 35-year-old, 11,200-seat Baltimore Arena on Baltimore Street.


Among the locations being considered, said Planning Director Charles C. Graves III, are the old AlliedSignal site in Fells Point; a 1.75-acre lot next to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the new Ravens stadium; a lot on the Fallsway just north of Gay Street; and the Howard Street location.

"We are doing an analysis for a variety of sites for a future arena," Graves said yesterday. "We are probably about 30 days away from presenting alternatives to the mayor."

Graves said the effects on traffic and the availability of nearby parking are some of the criteria his department is studying.

The study of potential sites comes as the city is considering what to do with the Memorial Stadium site. The final event at the stadium will be Sunday's football game between the Ravens and the Tennessee Oilers.

City leaders say construction of an arena could start in about five years.

"This is a few years away, but it is the next big entertainment

project," Schmoke said yesterday.

Funding for the proposed $200 million arena would come from state, city and private funds, the mayor said. No money has been allotted.

No formal effort is being made to get a National Basketball Association team for Baltimore, but M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of Baltimore Development Corp., said the city will seek an expansion team.

"I would say the preferred location is where the arena currently is -- just preliminary thinking," Schmoke said.

The current site presents problems, Graves said. One is that it is unclear whether the site contains enough space to build such a large arena. Another is that the city would be without an arena between the time the old one was torn down and the new one was built.

"If you demolish or rebuild at the present arena site, you are out of the venue for at least two years," Graves said.

The arena is home to the city's minor league hockey team and is host to a variety of entertainment events, including ice shows and concerts.

Perhaps because of the difficulty of building on the site of the existing arena, Schmoke seemed most interested yesterday in the old AlliedSignal Inc. site, where a chromium manufacturing plant stood for years until about six years ago. City officials have talked to the owners of that property, Schmoke said.

"There are an awful lot of problems. This is among a number of options that we are looking at," he said.

The 24-acre AlliedSignal site at Block and Wills streets in Fells Point has been undergoing an environmental cleanup for several years. Recently, AlliedSignal hired a real estate firm to market the property.

"About 30 days ago, we started marketing the property to potential users and developers," said Andrew Georgelakos, senior broker for KLNB Commercial real estate services.

For years, city leaders have said they wanted to replace the aging arena with a new one.

Last year, they came up with a plan to build an arena just north of Camden Yards, which would extend the row of sports complexes along Interstate 395.

That 1.75-acre site, now a parking lot, is bounded by Camden, Pratt, Eutaw and Paca streets.

City leaders and Maryland Stadium Authority officials have been considering building an underground parking garage near the site. Graves said that if the garage was built so that a building could be constructed atop it, the area would be ideal for an arena.

City leaders recently decided to have the task force study additional potential sites.

The proposed arena would have about 50 skyboxes and a large retail sports center, according to a plan circulated by the planning department.

Pub Date: 12/12/97

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