Royal Farms Arena
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Exterior of arena (c.2012)
|Former names||Baltimore Civic Center (1961-86)
Baltimore Arena (1986-2003; 2013-14)
1st Mariner Arena (2003-13)
|Address||201 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201-2501
|Owner||City of Baltimore|
|Broke ground||December 1959|
|Opened||October 23, 1962|
|Construction cost||$14 million
($115 million in 2017 dollars)
|Architect||AG Odell Jr. and Associates|
|Baltimore Clippers (AHL/SHL) (1962–77)
Baltimore Bullets (NBA) (1963–73)
Baltimore Banners (WTT) (1974)
Baltimore Blades (WHA) (1974–75)
Baltimore Blast (MISL I) (1980–92)
Baltimore Skipjacks (AHL) (1981–93)
Baltimore Thunder (MILL/NLL) (1987–99)
Baltimore Bayrunners (IBL) (1999–2000)
Baltimore Blast (MASL) (1992–present)
Baltimore Bandits (AHL) (1995–97)
Baltimore Blackbirds (AIFA) (2007)
Baltimore Mariners (AIFA) (2008–10, 2014)
Baltimore Charm (LFL) (2011–14)
Baltimore Brigade (AFL) (2017–)
Royal Farms Arena (originally the Baltimore Civic Center and formerly Baltimore Arena) is an arena located in Baltimore. The arena is located about a block away from the Baltimore Convention Center on the corner of Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place; it is also only a short distance from the Inner Harbor. It seats 11,100 and can be expanded up to 14,000, depending upon the event.
The arena officially opened October 23, 1962. Designed by AG Odell Jr. and Associates, it was built on the site of "Old Congress Hall", where the Continental Congress met in 1776. As a major cornerstone for the Inner Harbor redevelopment during the 1980s, it was reopened after renovations and was renamed the Baltimore Arena in 1986. In 2003, it was renamed by 1st Mariner Bank, which purchased naming rights to the arena for 10 years. It was reported that 1st Mariner Bank paid the city $75,000 a year to keep the naming rights to the complex. When the naming rights agreement with 1st Mariner Bank ended in 2013, the arena was briefly returned to its "Baltimore Arena" name, until Royal Farms purchased the naming rights to the arena in September 2014. The new naming rights deal calls for Royal Farms to pay $250,000 annually for five years to the city, and gives Royal Farms first rights to renew/restructure their deal at the end of the contract, or in the event that the city constructs a new arena. The Royal Farms Arena is owned by the city of Baltimore and is currently managed by SMG, a private management company.
A cornerstone to the arena was laid in the arena in 1961 with a vault that included messages from then-U.S. President John F. Kennedy, then-Maryland governor J. Millard Tawes, and then-Baltimore Mayor J. Harold Grady. The vault was opened in 2006.
The current site that was chosen for the Baltimore Civic Center was actually not one of the many sites proposed to the Greater Baltimore Committee in 1955. Among nine suggested locations there were two in Druid Hill Park, three at the end of the Inner Harbor basin (where the World Trade Center and Harborplace are now located), and one in Clifton Park.
The arena has been host to many events, ranging from boxing, to music, to sports.
In 1962 and continuing through 1976, the Baltimore Clippers of the American Hockey League played their home games at the Arena. The Clippers withdrew from the AHL in mid-season, 1974–75, to allow the Baltimore Blades (the relocated Michigan Stags) of the World Hockey Association (WHA) to finish their season. The Clippers regrouped for one final AHL season 1975–76. The Royal Farms Arena has hosted two other AHL franchises. The Baltimore Skipjacks lasted from 1981 to 1993. The Baltimore Bandits played two seasons in Baltimore from 1995 to 1997.
In 1963, the arena was host to a professional tennis match.
Also in 1963, the arena became the home of the Baltimore Bullets, who would play there until 1973.
The Beatles performed at the arena on Sunday September 13, 1964 to a total of 28,000 screaming fans, they played two performances on that same day, the first performance at 4:00pm and the second at 8:30pm. During their only visit to Baltimore they stayed at the Holiday Inn which housed the Circle One Revolving Restaurant located on the 13th floor. The famed Circle One restaurant (later known as The La Ronde) – now an event space, was once one of the first revolving restaurants in the continental United States, offering stunning 360° city views, it made a full rotation once every hour. The restaurant played host to the legendary Beatles, who dined there following their concert. John Lennon joked to a member of the tour group, "Larry, I hear your whole world was spinning the other night". During the day, two girls attempted to have themselves delivered to the venue in a large box labelled 'Beatles fan mail'. Their efforts were thwarted by a guard in charge of checking all deliveries. Police officers on horseback restrained the fans from storming the building.
The NBA All-Star Game was played at the arena in 1969.
On June 13, 1970, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played the Civic Center with a last-minute decision to visit from New York and sold out. Was noted to be one of the best performances of the whole 1970 tour and was one of the last shows Jimi played before he died a few months later.
Elvis Presley played the Civic Center twice: Tuesday Nov. 9, 1971, 8:30pm (wearing the Red Lion Suit) and Sunday May 29, 1977 8:30pm (wearing the Mexican Sundial Suit). The latter less than three months prior to his untimely death. Both shows were complete sell-outs.
The Grateful Dead's performance on September 17, 1972, was recorded and later released as Dick's Picks Volume 23. It contains the complete concert, except for the encore, which was "One More Saturday Night". It contains the longest CD version of "The Other One", to date, clocking in at nearly 40 minutes long.
In 1974 The World Team Tennis (WTT) Baltimore Banners played their home games there. Number 1 in the world Jimmy Connors was on that team. After Connors defeated Ken Roswall in Wimbledon they played each other in the arena as a rematch of Wimbledon. Billie Jean King played and coached the Philadelphia Freedoms of the WTT. Also John Newcomb played there in the WTT.
The Civic Center was host to the 1974 and 1975 MEAC Men's Basketball Tournament.
In 1975, professional basketball returned briefly with the Baltimore Claws of the American Basketball Association (ABA). The Memphis Sounds relocated to Baltimore following the 1974–75 ABA season and were first called the Baltimore Hustlers, before changing their name. Troubled financially from the start, the Claws folded after three road exhibition games.
The Royal Farms Arena was the home of the Major Indoor Soccer League's Baltimore Blast since they arrived in the 1980–1981 season until the league folded in 1992. The Blast won their only championship in the '83-'84 season which was attended by upwards of 11,200 fans. A new version of the team plays at the Royal Farms Arena. The Blast, regardless of incarnation, is now the longest-serving tenant in the arena's history.
In 1986, the arena was host to popular Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti.
The Royal Farms Arena was the home of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL) and later the National Lacrosse League (NLL) Baltimore Thunder from 1987 through 1999. The Thunder won the inaugural MILL championship. Notable players include Gary Gait, Tom Gravante (head Men's Lacrosse coach at Mount St. Mary's University) and Hugh Donovan.
In 1989, the arena was host to the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships. Three years later, in 1992, the International Olympic Committee held the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials there. In 1995, the arena was host to the NCAA Men's Basketball Division 1 games (Rounds 1 & 2).
The arena has also been a staple on the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series bull riding tour. It first visited the Arena from 2001 to 2003, then came back again from 2008 to 2010. It returned in 2012 and again in 2015.
On December 3–4, 2004, the Royal Farms Arena hosted the last Vans Triple Crown Of Freestyle Motocross events in history. The Vans Of FMX recently stopped for FMX's placement in the Dew Tour and also a similar Vans of FMX event course can be found in IFMA Of Freestyle Motocross or the Vans Invitational track.
On February 1, 2006, the arena hosted the first concert by The Rolling Stones, in Baltimore, since 1969, which was at the arena.
It was selected as the site of the 2006 Miss USA Pageant, for broadcast on live television.
On February 11, 2008, the arena also hosted a rally for presidential candidate Barack Obama.
- #1 Top Grossing Venue in North America in 2009*
- #3 Top Grossing Venue in the World in 2008*
- #13 Ticket Sales Worldwide All Venues in 2008**
- Prime Site Award Winner 2005–2015
- *Capacities 10,001-15,000, Billboard magazine
- **Pollstar Top 100 Worldwide Arena Venues
The arena has also been a staple on the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series bull riding tour. It first visited the Arena from 2001 to 2003, then came back again from 2008 to 2010. It will return again in 2012. Shogun Fights, the first promoter to bring professional Mixed Martial Arts to the state of Maryland, held its second event, Shogun Fights 2, on March 27, 2010. This event occurs twice each year, once in the Spring and again in the Fall.
The Colonial Athletic Association announced they would be moving their men's basketball tournament to the arena in 2014 under a three-year contract after a 24-year run at the Richmond Coliseum. It is the first time the tournament will be held outside the state of Virginia.
On April 26, 2014, the Royal Farms Arena hosted UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira.
In still more recent years, the Arena continues holding events such as Garth Brooks (five sold out concerts in January 2016), Eagles (July 2015), Prince (May 2015), Stevie Wonder (April 2015).
On November 14, 2016, Monumental Sports & Entertainment (owners of the Washington Wizards of the NBA, Washington Capitals of the NHL, Washington Mystics of the WNBA and the new Washington Valor of the Arena Football League) announced that they had been granted a second Arena Football League franchise to play at the Royal Farms Arena. It would be the first time the AFL played in Baltimore and the first team to play in Maryland since the Maryland Commandos played at the Capital Centre in 1989.
- #1 Top Grossing Venue in North America in 2015*
- #2 Top Grossing Venue in North America in 2014*
- #2 Top Grossing Venue in North America in 2012*
- #1 Top Grossing Venue in North America in 2011*
- Prime Site Award Winner 2005–2015
- *Capacities 10,001-15,000, Billboard magazine
- **Pollstar Top 100 Worldwide Arena Venues
On October 16, 2004, The Baltimore Sun revealed that official steps had been taken toward replacing The Arena, then 42 years old. The Maryland Stadium Authority had started soliciting proposals for a feasibility study on building an arena in downtown Baltimore, due on November 1, 2004. According to the request for proposals that was released, the new arena would be built on the same site of Royal Farms Arena and "would have a smaller seating capacity than would be required for an NHL or NBA team" but it doesn't specify a specific seating capacity.
On May 15, 2006, The Baltimore Sun reported that the feasibility study that was started in 2004 had been released publicly and the study stated that the current arena has "served its useful life" and that Baltimore must build a new arena or face the risk of losing events. The study rejected a proposal to repair the arena's aging systems, citing an estimated cost of $60 million, and instead suggested that the city demolish Royal Farms Arena and build a new arena on the same site or elsewhere in Baltimore. Notably the proposed new arena would only seat 15,000 – 16,000 people—the study assumed that Baltimore would never be successful in attracting a major pro team in the future; however, city officials were still open to this idea.
Conceivably, the new arena could be successful in attracting a minor league hockey team, bringing more than 200 new jobs and generating up to $1 million in additional tax revenue. City officials have said that the private sector would need to bear the brunt of the estimated $162 million construction cost of the new arena, as the city is also considering giving up ownership of the arena. The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) stated that it would begin seeking interested developers for the project by June 2007. BDC's President M. J. "Jay" Brodie said it was a "miracle" that the current arena books as many events as it does in its current state. City officials have said the location of the new arena would be dependent on what the developers suggest. Officials stated that they are equally comfortable with keeping the current arena, building the new arena in a new location, then demolishing the current arena, or encouraging a mixed-use development in the site of the current arena. Advocates for downtown, including the Downtown Partnership and the Westside Renaissance, want the new arena to remain in the downtown area.
On July 24, 2008, it was reported that the new arena will be built on the same site as the current one, with capacity to go upwards of 18,500. It was unknown at that time what would happen to concerts and events while construction gets underway, or who would develop the new arena. However, there have been talks about building a temporary facility for events. The arena was planned to be completed within a three-year period.
On August 27, 2008, The Baltimore Sun reported that developers were looking for designers to build an apartment building and outdoor shopping stores to be a part of the new Royal Farms Arena. Also, the developers announced that they were accepting all design proposals until November 26, 2008, and that, by the Summer of 2009, they planned to make a final design decision.
On December 17, 2008, the Baltimore Examiner reported that the Baltimore Development Corp. had received 4 proposals for the Royal Farms Arena replacement that could take away a "major entertainment venue" for Baltimore for up to "4 years" and the estimated price is $300 million, but could be more depending on additional retail and hotel uses. The arena is reported to be an 18,500-seat venue built at the same location of the current Royal Farms Arena. The four proposals were:
ESmith Legacy and Garfield Traub Development: ESmith Legacy was a team led by former NFL player Emmitt Smith that has offices in Baltimore. This proposal included the following features in addition to the larger arena:
- 7-screen movie theater
- 20,000 square feet of retail space
- 1,000-seat concert venue
Streuver Brothers Eccles & Rouse: A well known Baltimore-based developer. This proposal included:
- 300-room hotel
- 43,000 SF of retail space
Cormony Development and Harrison Development: Respectively, Rockville- and Baltimore-based development firms who have been involved since 2007. This proposal includes:
- 400-room hotel
- 240,000 SF office tower
- 12,000 SF to 20,000 SF of retail space
A&R Development, J Street Development Co., and Accent Development Co.: A partnership of Baltimore-based A&R and Washington based J Street and Accent Development under the name Arena Development. This proposal includes:
- Up to 100,000 SF of retail space
The Baltimore Examiner reported that the BDC could make a decision on the developer as soon as mid-2009.
On July 8, 2009, ArenaDigest.com reported that Baltimore City officials had postponed their plans for constructing a new arena, due in part to the struggling economy, and the officials' decision split between building either an 18,500-seat arena for a possible NBA or NHL franchise, or constructing a mid-size facility for concerts, family events, and minor league sports.
However, on November 12, 2010, with the recession rebounding, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced that city officials were considering new sites for a new arena. The plan called for Royal Farms Arena to remain open, while a new arena was constructed. While Rawlings-Blake believed that the new arena would most likely to be erected in the city's West Side, the Greater Baltimore Committee suggested building the arena as an expansion to the Baltimore Convention Center, to help re-develop the Inner Harbor. The cost would range from $750 to $930 million, since it would include the 18,500-seat arena, 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center, an underground garage, and a new 500-room Sheraton hotel; the proposed arena site is where the current Sheraton hotel rests.
On January 14, 2015, David S. Cordish, the chairman and CEO of the Cordish Company, proposed to build a 15,000-16,000 seat waterfront arena, but built with expanded capacity in mind. The arena, accommodated with an outdoor amphitheater and a pedestrian bridge to connect the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill, would cost $450 million and tie up with Harbor East and Power Plant Live.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
- "Baltimore's Largest Indoor Entertainment Facility Renamed Royal Farms Arena". CBS Baltimore. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- "7,760 ATTEND CENTER OPENING". The Baltimore Sun. Hearst Corporation. October 24, 1962. – via ProQuest Archiver (subscription required)
- Hayward, Mary Ellen; Shivers, Jr., Frank, eds. (May 26, 2004). "Building a Renaissance, 1955-2000". The Architecture of Baltimore: An Illustrated History. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 282. ISBN 0801878063.
- Sharrow, Ryan (September 15, 2014). "Royal Farms taking over naming rights to Baltimore Arena". Baltimore Business Journal. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
- Report No. 5781 to Greater Baltimore Committee, Inc. on Proposed Civic Center for Baltimore, Nov 1, 1955. (via Enoch Pratt Free Library Maryland History dept.)
- University of Baltimore: Riots and Rebirth Project Timeline
- "CAA Reaches Three-Year Agreement With City of Baltimore to Host 2014-16 CAA Men's Basketball Championships". CAA. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- "Monumental Sports & Entertainment Acquires AFL Team to Play in Baltimore". Monumental Sports & Entertainment. November 14, 2016.
- Ideas solicited for city arena Requires Site Registration
- Andrew Cannarsa (2008-12-17). "New downtown arena project draws four interested parties". The Baltimore Examiner. p. 16.
- "Baltimore puts off decision on new downtown arena". Arena Digest. 2009-07-08.
- "GBC proposes Inner Harbor redevelopment to expand Convention Center, add sports arena". Baltimore Sun. 2010-11-12.
- "Arena, convention center idea could cost nearly $1B". Baltimore Business Journal. 2010-12-16.
- "Exclusive: Cordish floating plans to build Inner Harbor arena on Piers 5 and 6". Baltimore Business Journal. 2015-12-14.
|Events and tenants|
|Home of the
2017 – present
|Home of the
1987 – 1999
Pittsburgh Civic Arena
|Home of the
1992 – present
|Home of the
2008 – 2010, 2014
|Home of the
1963 – 1973
Madison Square Garden
|Host of the
NBA All-Star Game