Dreaming of a better Arena

Downtown: Baltimore needs to seek private sponsors if it wants to replace 35-year-old Arena quickly.

April 15, 1999

IT TOOK consultants a year to establish what we already knew: Baltimore needs something better than the 35-year-old Arena if it hopes to attract a National Basketball Association or National Hockey League franchise. And the new hall should be built at or near the current site to take advantage of a plan to revitalize the Howard Street corridor.

"You put the Hippodrome and the Arena together and you will have a very compelling synergy," consultant Len Perna said, referring to the old vaudeville theater that is slated to become a regional performing arts center if the state decides to finance it.

Who should bankroll a new $200-million Arena? The state, say consultants and city officials.

That may not be realistic.

Washington's MCI Center shows that the private sector can bankroll a multi-purpose facility that houses a major team. That should be Baltimore's goal as well if it wants to avoid the endless politicking that could defeat hopes of a new arena any time soon.

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