Aiming for the big leagues Baltimore arena: Even though site search continues, planning for new sports complex is about to begin.

May 04, 1998

CITY OFFICIALS are still searching for a site to replace the less-than-adequate Baltimore Arena downtown. Three locations are under active consideration: the existing site at Howard and Baltimore streets, two options near the new Ravens football stadium and the AlliedSignal reclamation area in Fells Point.

All of these alternatives have problems. Nevertheless, the city is about to advertise for a consultant to help in the planning of a $200 million arena that could have seating for up to 20,000 people.

It's no secret Baltimore hopes lure National Basketball Association and National Hockey League franchises to the complex.

The task of the consultant is to prepare an economic analysis, including desired uses for the arena, seating capacity and number of sky boxes. The consultant would not recommend a site; that selection would be up to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

For reasons that are not easy to understand, City Hall seems to be enamored with the idea of locating the arena in Fells Point.

Without question, AlliedSignal's 20-acre waterfront site has dramatic presence. But the former chrome processing land would be expensive to acquire. It may also involve environmental and health concerns, and it would certainly cause serious traffic and parking problems.

City officials ought to insist that any new arena site have reasonable road access, as well as proximity to light rail and Metro service.

Two unexplored possibilities come to mind: The Lexington Market West block, bounded by Lexington, Paca, Saratoga and Greene streets, and an area -- now used as parking lots near the State Office Complex, between Eutaw Place, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Madison Avenue and Hoffman Street.

Pub Date: 5/04/98

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