Baltimore Arena Could Be Renovated But Neither The NBA Or NHL Is Going There

The old building does well on the concert circuit.

It appears that the 59-year-old Baltimore Civic Center aka Baltimore Arena is going to get a facelift. The city of Baltimore, which owns the building, is in exclusive negotiations with the Oak View Group and Kevin Durant’s Thirty-Five Ventures to redo the building that once was home to the National Basketball Association’s Baltimore Bullets now the Washington Wizards. Even with a rebuilt arena, Baltimore is not in the running for either an NBA team or a National Hockey League franchise. Bullets’ owner Abe Pollin took his NBA franchise to Landover, Maryland just east of Washington DC following the 1973 season. Pollin had purchased the Chicago Zephyrs for a reported $1.1 million in 1963, which was a record amount of money at that time to buy an NBA team and the Baltimore Civic Center was the state-of-the-art arena Pollin chose to use as he moved the team to Baltimore.

The National Hockey League decided to double in size in the mid-1960s for two reasons, to get television money and ward off an attempt by the Western Hockey League to claim Major League status. It appeared Baltimore had a good chance to land a team except the arena was a problem. Toronto Maple Leafs President Stafford Smythe told the Toronto Globe and Mail. “The Baltimore Civic Center, which Zanvyl Kreiger proposed to renovate, is not suitable for hockey because it is built so that many spectators can’t see the goal. The building is the worst for hockey in North America.” There was a stage built into the arena design and while that was good for concerts and the Baltimore Arena has done extremely well with concerts, it was not good for an NHL team or a minor league hockey team. Even if the rebuilt arena is up to NBA/NHL standards, no team is going there as it is in Washington’s territory.

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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant reacts after sinking a 3-point shot against the Milwaukee Bucks during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York. is part of the renovation effort, (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)