Messing with the wrong Mariner
While the debate is going to rage about how wasteful it is to spend hundreds of millions on an arena in Baltimore, has anybody noticed that the City is going out of its way on this arena deal to screw one of its leading corporate citizens?
Sure, everybody has their own opinion of Ed Hale, but does it really make any sense to bring substantial financial ruin upon the only franchise that has called the Baltimore Arena home for the last 28 consecutive years? Of course it doesn’t. Only a hard-headed, on the take idiot would come to the conclusion that you should tear down the current venue, kick out the current tenants, and build a brand new venue with the same crappy traffic and location problems as the old venue.
But of course, the person they are screwing is Ed Hale. And he has the money to do something about it. And it looks like Ed Hale is going to go into business for himself:
With Baltimore possibly building a new arena on the site of his team’s home, 1st Mariner Arena, Blast owner Ed Hale will be looking for a new place to play – or he might just build one himself in Baltimore County. “I knew this could eventually happen,” he said of the arena building site. “I’ve looked at UMBC and Towson University for possible places to play, but they don’t work [because of small capacity]. And I’ve looked at possible sites in Baltimore County to build an arena – to privately build an arena – outside the city that would seat from 12,000 to 15,000. A nice size for our team and small concerts. And I’ve already had calls from people in Baltimore County with property who have said, ‘If you want to do it, let’s go.'” Hale said he will look into all of his options, including a lawsuit, if he finds he is severely damaged. “[The Blast] was never taken into account,” Hale said when asked about the city’s decision to build a new 18,500-seat arena on the 1st Mariner site. “We’ve been there for 20 years. Bernie Rodin brought the team to town in 1980, and we’re not relevant? I’ve been a pretty good citizen. I’ve never asked for anything, and not one thing has been given to me.”
So let’s follow this. The city really had two options here. They could choose to build the arena in a new location, then tear down the old arena and sell the extremely valuable real estate for downtown redevelopment. Or, they could tear down the old arena and build a new one on top of the land, leaving the city without an arena and screwing over their one leaseholder.
By choosing option # 2, the city has created an interesting dilemma. If Hale goes through with his plan, now the Baltimore area will have two brand new arenas that will potentially be in competition with each other for some of the same shows, some of the same attractions, and some of the same sports teams. And on top of it, the Hale venture is going to probably be more accessible for the dollars of suburban families that will be needed to make either arena profitable. Does that make any business sense at all for the city of Baltimore?
Instead of doing the right thing and crate a situation that benefits all stakeholders, the city is going to do the boneheaded thing and engender negative feelings and potentially a direct competitor to their brand new arena enterprise. It makes me wonder if anybody on Mayor Dixon’s staff truly understands the rules of business and the rules of economics….