Baltimore Arena, Hotel Development could Begin Before the Convention Center Expansion

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor At the Ballard Spahr LLP breakfast speaker event, Donald C. Fry, CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), shared that the construction of a new 18,500-seat arena and a 500-room hotel in Baltimore’s downtown could begin [...]

At the Ballard Spahr LLP breakfast speaker event, Donald C. Fry, CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), shared that the construction of a new 18,500-seat arena and a 500-room hotel in Baltimore’s downtown could begin before work even starts on the Baltimore Convention Center expansion project. The $450 million Convention Center expansion project and the $500 million arena and hotel construction project promise to reshape the city’s downtown.

The Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel, its attached parking lot, and the 1979 wing of the Baltimore Convention Center will be demolished to make way for the hotel, the arena and the 760,000 square feet convention center expansion. The $325 million, 18,500-seat arena is not being built with the intention to attract an NHL or NBA team. It will replace the old 1st Mariner Arena.

The $175 million hotel would have roughly 150 more rooms than the existing Sheraton. The designs show it sitting on top of the arena. Willard Hackerman, owner of Baltimore’s Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., said he would privately fund the proposed $500 million arena and hotel at Pratt and Charles streets. According to Ballard Spahr’s Fry, if Hackerman strongly believes that city and state officials will provide funding for the $450 million expansion project, construction of the glass-encased hotel and arena could start first.

Budget woes present important obstacles to many projects in the area. It is still not clear whether the city and state will provide the $450 million needed to fund the expansion project. Fry and city leaders believe the project will revitalize the city’s urban center, boosting the economy. Fry also said he believes the city and state could cover the tab. The state has already provided $150,000 for a feasibility study.

Plans for the new arena, hotel and convention center expansion were first presented in May. Considered one of the most important and expensive projects ever proposed for downtown Baltimore, it will improve local economy, reinvigorate the Inner Harbor and create an important number of jobs.