BALTIMORE — The 60-year-old Baltimore Arena in downtown is officially getting a facelift. Developers are hosting a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon to celebrate the $150 million renovation project.
The future looks bright for the arena formerly known as the Royal Farms Arena, with more seating, better concessions and eventually a new name on the way for February 2023.
Outside the arena, renderings show a sparkling new exterior shell, big and bold LED billboards, dazzling lighting, and terraces to enjoy a warm summer evening.
While inside the arena, renderings show a sophisticated new look with plush seating, dramatic concourses and a pushed backstage.
Moving the stage will allow for more lower-level seating and overall seating will increase from 14,000 to 16,000.
There's also a proposal to close down Hopkins Plaza and create a new outdoor festival area.
Besides all of the physical changes happening, more events also are headed to the Baltimore Arena.
The CIAA basketball tournament has already committed to returning to Baltimore and keeping the games here through 2025.
Sports fans also can expect to see NCAA games along with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
The renovation project cost $150 million, although no public funds are being spent to complete it.
Rather, renovations are being funded by developers the Oak View Group (OVG), along with additional funds by an investment firm founded by NBA star Kevin Durant called Thirty-Five Ventures.
Although the official groundbreaking is Thursday, construction walls and equipment have been on site for several weeks.
Meanwhile, naming rights are still up for grabs. Royal Farms reportedly paid a $250,000 a year to have it's name on the building, so it doesn't come cheap.