1st Mariner Arena
1st Mariner Arena (formerly Baltimore Arena and Baltimore Civic Center) is an arena located in Baltimore, Maryland. 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 will need to pay the city $75,000 for the next ten years to keep the naming rights to the complex. 1st Mariner Bank 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 up to approximately 14,000 people though this number varies depending on the type of event. The arena officially opened in 1962 as the Baltimore Civic Center. 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. It is owned by the city and is managed by SMG, a private management company. Annually, the 1st Mariner Bank Arena is host to 800,000 people. 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.

Replacement of 1st Mariner Arena
On October 16, 2004, The Baltimore Sun revealed that an official steps had been taken toward replacing the 1st Mariner 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 1st Mariner 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. (Source: Ideas solicited for city arena Requires Site Registration) On May 15, 2007, 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 1st Mariner 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 an NHL or NBA team in the future, either of which would require a minimum of 18,000 - 20,000 seats; however, city officials were still open to this idea. Conceivably, the new arena could be successful in attracting an arena football team and/or 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" Brody 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 (1) keeping the current arena, (2) building the new arena in a new location, then demolishing the current arena, or (3) 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. (Source: ) On November 18, 2007, WJZ 13 reported that seven sites have been submitted to the BDC for a new arena, and the choices will be narrowed down by the Spring of 2008. (Source: ) 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. (Source: ) 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 1st Mariner 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 1st Mariner 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 1st Mariner 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 SF 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, Arena Digest.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 are considering new sites for a new arena. The plan calls for 1st Mariner Arena to remain open, while a new arena is constructed. While Rawlings-Blake believes that the new arena is most likely to be erected in the city's West Side, the Greater Baltimore Committee suggest 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 expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center, an underground garage, and a new 500-room Sheraton hotel. Ironically, the proposed arena site is where the current Sheraton hotel rests. .

Notable events and tenants

The arena has been host to many events, ranging from boxing, to music, to sports and to wrestling. In 1962 and continuing through 1976, the Baltimore Clippers of the American Hockey League played their home games at the Arena. Interestingly, 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 Baltimore Arena has hosted two other AHL franchises. The Baltimore Skipjacks lasted from 1981-1993. The Baltimore Bandits played two seasons in Baltimore from 1995-97. In 1962, the Arena hosted a boxing match between Joey Giardello and Johnny Morris. In 1963, the arena was host to a professional tennis match. Also in 1963, the arena was home to the Baltimore Bullets and was the host of the NBA All-Star Game in 1969. In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 'gives a speech, "Race and the Church," before a gathering of Methodist clergy at the Baltimore Civic Center.' The venue also hosted Led Zeppelin several times through the early 1970s. A couple of scenes from the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same were filmed backstage. The Civic Center was host to the 1974 and 1975 MEAC Men's Basketball Tournament.

The Baltimore 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. The new-Blast (founded as the Baltimore Spirit in June 1992) still plays at the now, 1st Mariner Arena, and just recently won their 4th championship in the last six years. In 1986, the arena was host to popular Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. The Baltimore 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. The Thunder transferred from Baltimore becoming the Pittsburgh CrosseFire in 2000, the Washington Power in 2001, and finally the Colorado Mammoth in 2003 (present team). Notable players include Gary Gait, Tom Gravante (head Men's Lacrosse coach at Mount St. Mary's University) and Hugh Donovan. The Baltimore Arena was considered a cornerstone location for NWA/WCW wrestling, its northern capital so to speak. The Great American Bash pay-per-view was held at the arena eight times during the life of the promotion, and by the time WCW was bought by WWE, The Great American Bash had been in Baltimore for four of the five previous years. It also hosted SuperBrawl V in 1995. Sting defeated Ric Flair to win his first NWA World Championship at 1990 The Great American Bash, and Ron Simmons upset Vader in 1992 for the WCW title, becoming the first African-American to hold a major world title. The nWo was reformed in 1999 at the First Mariner Arena with Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Jeff Jarrett. The arena has also hosted many WWWF/World Wrestling Federation/ World Wrestling Entertainment events over the years. Most notably the 1994 King of the Ring, No Mercy (2003), No Way Out 2006, Backlash 2008, and Extreme Rules (2010) as well as multiple Raw and SmackDown!/ ECW tapings. Major title changes to take place in the arena include Superstar Billy Graham over Bruno Sammartino in 1977 for the WWWF championship, Tito Santana over Greg "The Hammer" Valentine in 1985 for the WWF Intercontinental title (steel cage match). 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). KISS were scheduled to perform during their Hot in the Shade Tour on October 28, 1990, but the show was cancelled.

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. ( Note: In 2001 and 2002, the tour was called the Bud Light Cup tour.) In July 2004, the arena was host to the US debut of Japanese rock band L'Arc-en-Ciel, as part of the anime and east Asian culture convention Otakon. On December 3”“4, 2004, the 1st Mariner 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. On February 19, 2006, WWE PPV No Way Out was held in Baltimore, there first since No Mercy 2003. Chris Benoit Def Booker T for the United States Championship 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. On April 27, 2008, WWE PPV Backlash was held in Baltimore. Triple H defeated Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship. On November 20, 2009, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band performed at the arena, recreating the entirety of their landmark album Born to Run; it was their first tour stop, in Baltimore, since 1973.

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. On April 25, 2010, the arena played host to WWE Extreme Rules.

1st Mariner Arena is immediately adjacent to the University Center/Baltimore Street stop on the Baltimore Light Rail. The Charles Center Metro Subway Station and many bus lines are also nearby.

Building Activity

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