BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Take the Inner Harbor to the next level. That’s the goal of a major revitalization plan, and it could end up with spectacular Las Vegas-like nighttime light shows.
Andrea Fujii has a look at the ambitious plans.
These are two big projects that could change the face of Baltimore. One involves the Baltimore Convention Center and a new arena. The other involves the Inner Harbor and a big water and light show. It’s all going to be financed with the public-private partnership.
The proposed revitalization plan includes a massive proposed new arena, hotel and expanded convention center in downtown Baltimore. It connects to the current Baltimore Convention Center, almost doubling its size, replacing the Sheraton on Charles Street. It includes 550 parking spaces. The arena would seat 18,500 people—big enough for major political conventions and perhaps a new NBA franchise.
“You build this building on the East Coast? Philadelphia is not happy. D.C. is not happy. Boston’s not happy,” said Tom Noonan, Visit Baltimore.
So who is paying for it? The hotel and arena cost a combined $500 million. The Greater Baltimore Committee says the Sheraton’s owner/developer would cover that tab. Taxpayers would pay the estimated $400 million convention center bill.
“This is the only convention center, the only convention complex in the state of Maryland that can address these types of conventions that come here,” said Don Fry, Greater Baltimore Committee. “So we think that there surely is a legitimate state investment.”
“That bill doesn’t sound like something that we want to pick up or do,” said one Maryland resident. “Nine times out of 10 that’s going to be on us anyway.”
The redevelopment would continue with the harbor with a new pedestrian bridge to connect Federal Hill to Harbor East, a new Rash Field and a Vegas-style water and light show around the harbor.
“I like the idea,” said one Inner Harbor patron. “I think it will be good for locals and tourists, especially if private money is being used to fund it.”
“I like it the way it is,” said another. “Now, an addition would be a plus.”
These projects would be the area’s biggest transformation since the William Donald Schaefer years and could take 4-6 years to complete.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty with this. A lot of proposals with the harbor they want public input on. All of that taxpayer money would come from a combination of city and state funds, and it’s unclear yet whether elected leaders would want to sign on to the plans.
The Greater Baltimore Commission says the arena will still make money even without a professional sports team.