SBD/May 26, 2011/Facilities

Developer Willard Hackerman Offers To Finance Proposed Downtown Baltimore Arena

Estimates place the 18,500-seat downtown arena at around $325M to build
Baltimore city officials said that developer Willard Hackerman “has offered to finance and build an 18,500-seat arena in downtown Baltimore,” freeing taxpayers from “having to foot the bill and significantly increasing the chances that plans for a $900 million convention center expansion and arena will become a reality,” according to Edward Gunts of the Baltimore SUN. Greater Baltimore Committee officials said that Hackerman “has been actively involved in planning for the arena and convention center expansion, and hired Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore-based architecture firm, to develop the designs unveiled Wednesday.” GBC officials and others said that Hackerman “has the financial ability to raise private money for both the arena and hotel and that he wants Whiting-Turner to build them.” GBC President & CEO Donald Fry said that “much of the project's appeal” to Hackerman is the “combination of an arena and an expanded convention center in one location.” Ayers Saint Gross architect Adam Gross said that “while other cities combine arenas and convention centers, none has united facilities the size of those proposed for Baltimore.” Fry said that Hackerman's offer “is contingent on the convention center expansion's moving ahead and being connected to the arena to create one project.” He said that “planners would seek city and state funding for the convention center expansion, making the project a public-private partnership.” Fry said that based on the preliminary designs, the hotel is “expected to cost $175 million and the arena $325 million -- a total of $500 million that would be covered by Hackerman and his investment group” (Baltimore SUN, 5/26).
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