A prominent Baltimore businessman and ally of Mayor Martin O'Malley will take over management of a city-owned soccer arena in Canton under a measure approved by the Board of Estimates yesterday - ending a years-long negotiation over the property.
Edwin F. Hale Sr., chairman and chief executive officer of 1st Mariner Bank and chairman of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association board, will receive a $272,605 annual management fee to oversee the operation of the Clarence Du Burns Arena at Ellwood Avenue and Boston Street.
Details of the arrangement were not available because, an official with the Department of Recreation and Parks said, the contract will not be made final for another week. The Board of Estimates approved the measure unanimously.
City officials first attempted to privatize the facility in 2003 and requested proposals from managers. Hale Properties LLC was the only company to respond but, at the time, officials said that its pitch did not meet their requirements. The city subsequently began exclusive negotiations with the company.
The Blast, Hale's professional indoor soccer team, plays its games at the 1st Mariner Arena downtown but practices at the Burns Arena and has its corporate offices there. In addition, the arena is used by amateur soccer and lacrosse teams that rent time on the indoor and outdoor fields.
Stanley Fine, a lawyer representing Hale Properties, said the site would continue to host programs that take place at the arena, including after-school programs.
Two full-time staff members will be retained by the parks department, and the arena's part-time staff will choose whether to keep their jobs with the city or work for Hale.