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Baltimore Ponders New Arena

BALTIMORE (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — A plan by City of Baltimore to build a new $300 million dollar replacement for the aging Mariner Arena has drawn praise from proponents of the concept and criticism from detractors.

The city's plan would see a brand-new state-of-the-art, 18,500-seat structure to replace the 46-year-old Mariner arena, to be built west side of downtown Baltimore. The idea, according to the Baltimore Sun, will be to revitalize the downtown area, while providing a model for what future arena projects will be like, similar to the effect the Orioles Camden Yards had on baseball stadium design.

"We have an opportunity to change how arenas are defined," Deputy Mayor Andrew Frank told The Sun. "I can see a very vertical building that packs in a mix of uses. The challenge is to activate the site all the time, 365 days a year and 24/7, if we can."

The cost of the project has been estimated at more than $300 million, and would largely be financed with public funding, but as of yet, no formal plans have been adopted. The city is expected to issue a formal request for proposals within the month and several developers have expressed an interest in the project.

Not everyone in Baltimore is an enthusiastic supporter of the arena plan however. One group volunteer group, the AIA Baltimore Urban Design Committee is dedicated to encouraging effective urban design in the city, and would prefer to see the west side site being considered for the arena used for other purposes.

"We're disappointed the arguments we put forth were not heard," Philipsen told the Sun.

Phillipsen's group, and others have suggested that the city would benefit from a multi-use site that included a city park as well as housing and retail space. They believe that the money earned from leasing the city-owned property to developers would generate sufficient revenue to fund an arena to be built elsewhere.

City officials seem undeterred however and is intent on delivering a project that "people can be proud of."

"This is an opportunity to exploit," Frank told The Sun "It can and should be the Camden Yards of arenas."