The Baltimore Sun

Proposed downtown arena gets private financing commitment
The Baltimore Sun

Construction magnate Willard Hackerman has offered to finance and build an 18,500-seat arena in downtown Baltimore, civic leaders say, 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.

News of Hackerman’s offer was made public Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Greater Baltimore Committee, a private business group that has been exploring ways to build an arena that would be combined with an expanded convention center to bolster the city’s tourism business and add life to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

GBC leaders also showed preliminary designs demonstrating how a 25-story hotel could rise above the arena and expanded convention center.

« Mr. Hackerman has pledged to the governor and the mayor that he will engage in creating a private … partnership that will privately finance the arena and the hotel, » said Donald C. Fry, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Baltimore Committee. « He sees this as a transformative project that can have a significant impact on downtown Baltimore, and he would like to see that. … It would result in a great revitalization of the area. »

Gov. Martin O’Malley, also at the meeting, said, « Thank you, Mr. Hackerman. »