Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pros/Cons of New Arena at the Inner Harbor

photo credit, The Baltimore Sun
Recently this past week the GBC proposed a plan to build a new arena on the site of the oldest section of the Convention Center at Pratt and Charles Streets. Now the city is seeking proposals, again, for a new arena to replace 1st Mariner Arena, but prefers this time to use an alternative site. The original proposals in 2008 sought to replace the arena on site, but it would leave Baltimore without a major indoor venue for concerts, sports, and other events for at least two years. By building the new arena at a different spot in the city, this will allow 1st Mariner to remain open during the construction of the new space. This leads to a few pros and cons that I can think of.

Pros:
  • The Inner Harbor site would be closer to Camden Yards and the rest of Harborplace, helping to draw visitors to that area.
  • Will at the same time replace a portion of the convention center with new exhibiting and meeting space, which can encourage more conventions per year.
  • Allow for new development at the 1st Marina site.
Cons:
  • Potentially won't help to break up the 4-block wall that is devoid of retail space or any other life on the south side of Pratt, unless the developers add some type of retail on the Pratt and Charles street front.
  • A long timeline for replacement for the 1st Marina site could leave a block-sized undeveloped plot for who knows how long. When we consider the stalled Superblock site, and the already slow development on the Westside, it could be a very long time.
  • Takes away from encouraging development to the Westside, when the city should be looking at expanding downtown redevelopment instead of concentrating everything around the harbor.

2 comments:

  1. Well, the current arena is dumb. I call it dumb instead of listing 500 things wrong with it. It's dumb.

    Replacing it at the same site has all the cons you mention, plus half the cons of the current space.

    Building it on the convention center site is also dumb. I'm sick of this "if you build it they will come" mentality on drawing convention business. It's a much smaller equivalent to building olympic venues or world cup stadia.

    Personally, I'd like to see an arena on the 25th St site in Remington. As long as it was comparable in size to the current arena, it could be a good fit to the neighborhood, as Du Burns is in Canton. There's plenty of room for a separate parking structure on that site too. It's right off 83, etc.

    At any rate, whatever ends up on Baltimore street will be a huge step up. If you get rid of that and the Mechanic, and replace them smartly Baltimore Street may even begin to rival Pratt Street for 'main street' status downtown.

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  2. Agreed. I don't see why the city insists on putting all its development focus on the Inner Harbor when Baltimore has much more to offer in other parts of the city. Plus, the Westside needs it more.

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