`New' Arena could be in for wild ride

Rodeo, roller hockey, more seen by SMG

May 05, 1999|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Bull rides. More concerts. Maybe even basketball and roller hockey.

The new managers of the Baltimore Arena, executives of the Philadelphia-based SMG, say they will use their national contacts to bring a wider array of sports and acts to the downtown building.

"I think you'll see more of a variety. We'll have to try some things and see what works," said Michael R. Evans, senior vice president of sports and entertainment for SMG.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in the Sports section of yesterday's editions incorrectly indicated that the new managers of Baltimore Arena were likely to schedule a professional rodeo. SMG, the management firm, may schedule an exhibition by professional bull riders.
The Sun regrets the errors.

The company, which operates 26 arenas along with a number of convention centers, football stadiums and other venues, bought the management lease to Baltimore's arena last month.

In terms of sports, the company has been in communication with the International Basketball League, a Baltimore-based startup that hopes to begin fielding teams this year. Evans said there is continuing interest by various hockey leagues, but notes that the history of hockey in Baltimore has not been good.

The firm likes to get involved with upstart leagues on a national level, and can be influential in where they locate, he said. There is a roller hockey league trying to organize, and a rapid expansion of indoor "arena" football, he said.

"Rather than wait for someone else to take something on the road, we get involved with leagues as they get formed," Evans said.

Special events likely to find their way to the arena include professional rodeo and a match between some traveling "roller jam" teams, descendants of the defunct roller derby. SMG has a relationship with a league of bull riders, which is growing in popularity.

A couple of promoters interested in organizing college and high school basketball tournaments have approached SMG about Baltimore too, he said.

SMG is confident it can land more concerts than the former management company, Centre Management. Critics have long contended that it steered the best shows to the buildings it owns -- located in Washington and Landover -- an assertion that Centre denied.

"Somebody has to be an advocate for the building and say `Baltimore, Baltimore, Baltimore.' That has not been the case," Evans said.

The nearest SMG-managed arenas are in Philadelphia and Richmond, Va.

The company has made one change to the Baltimore Arena: Longtime food service supplier Ogden Entertainment has been replaced by a concessionaire unit of SMG.

Pub Date: 5/05/99

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