Under Armour plans for 'campus'

CEO Plank confirms desire for a larger presence in city

April 26, 2008|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,Sun Reporter

Baltimore sports apparel company Under Armour confirmed yesterday that it wants to build a corporate campus in Baltimore in the next several years, when it expects to outgrow its Tide Point headquarters.

Kevin A. Plank, Under Armour Inc. chairman and chief executive officer, said the company is interested in having a bigger presence in the city.

"The Under Armour campus should be an embodiment of the Under Armour brand," said Plank, speaking after an event in preparation for the launch of a cross trainer sneaker the company will begin selling next weekend.

He said the company's "four- or five-year plan includes an Under Armour campus."

City officials have said they talked with Under Armour executives about several city sites as a possible new home. But until yesterday, the company has never confirmed its interest in larger digs.

M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of Baltimore Development Corp., said in January that West Covington, an industrial swath along the shoreline of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, is one of the locations that the company is interested in. City development officials hope to transform that site into an extensive mixed-use development.

The Baltimore Planning Commission voted against making the West Covington area an urban renewal district by using condemnation to displace businesses. The panel did say that development could continue.

Plank didn't give details yesterday about what sites his company is considering. But he did say it would need the cooperation of the city. He also thinks a corporate campus for a national company would only benefit Baltimore.

"Who wants to be in an apartment building or office building if you can be next to an Under Armour campus?" Plank said.

The rapidly growing company is likely to outgrow its Tide Point headquarters in the next five years. Its staff is expected to expand significantly as it branches into new categories. For example, it plans to move further into the footwear category in the next few years.

Developer Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse said earlier this year that Under Armour is buying a 7.2-acre property between Beason Street and Key Highway and would renovate a warehouse to support the company's growth.

Brodie said that expansion would accommodate Under Armour for five years.

Shares of Under Armour rose $1.66 to close at $39.68 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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