Under Armour Performance Apparel, the company begun by a former University of Maryland football player that transformed the athletic underwear business, is relocating its manufacturing facility to Anne Arundel County from Baltimore County - a prize corporate catch that the two suburbs battled over.
Under Armour plans to move into a 346,000-square-foot building at the Marley Neck Industrial Park in Pasadena in April. The building has been vacant for two years. Webvan Group Inc., an Internet grocery provider, spent $30 million to build it but went bankrupt and never moved in.
The new location is nearly three times the size of Under Armour's present 90,000-square- foot manufacturing facility in Rosedale.
The $8 million, five-year leasing deal ends several months of searching for the company, which retains its headquarters in Locust Point in South Baltimore and was aggressively pursued by the neighboring counties.
The company expects to bring 141 new jobs to Pasadena by 2005.
Anne Arundel economic officials were able to find a space large enough and available quickly - two key requirements, said Under Armour president and founder Kevin Plank.
"The facility that we found in Anne Arundel gives us the ability to grow our business without having to worry about moving out in two or three years," said Plank, a former University of Maryland fullback.
Plank acknowledged that Baltimore County "bent over backward" in attempting to retain the company. Under Armour also scouted facilities in Baltimore City, Hagerstown and Pennsylvania.
Baltimore County Economic Development Director David Iannucci said the county made extensive efforts to keep Under Armour, but couldn't match the Pasadena offer.
"It was a real estate decision," Iannucci said. The county looked at extending Kelso Drive to open more land for the company to expand onto, but because county finances are tight, the road extension would have taken two or three years.
Even had Baltimore County been able to extend the road immediately, it couldn't match the terms or rent of the Pasadena site, Iannucci said.
"Under Armour is an outstanding company," he said. "I'm glad they're in the region; I'm glad they're in Maryland. I wish them nothing but success."
Anne Arundel County is providing Under Armour with a $75,000 grant to train workers and a low-interest loan to help defray moving costs, said William Badger, president and chief executive officer of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp.
Under Armour is the originator of a line of moisture-wicking clothing that draws perspiration away from the skin to keep athletes cooler and drier. Despite new competition from major athletic wear companies such as Nike and Reebok, Under Armour holds 73 percent of the so-called compression market. It is the official performance apparel supplier to Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League, USA Baseball and the US Ski Team. In October, Inc. magazine named the company No. 2 on its list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation.
Under Armour expects to bring in $120 million this year, double last year's revenue of $59 million. It estimates 2004 revenue of $200 million.
Under Armour will initially occupy 150,000 square feet of the Pasadena facility and use the remainder as needed. It expects to fill 300,000 square feet within three years.
"What Under Armour brings to us is this growth opportunity, and we believe the number of jobs will grow substantially in the future," Badger said.
Staff writer Andrew A. Green contributed to this article.