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1st Mariner Arena
1st Mariner Arena.svg
Former names Baltimore Civic Center (1961-1986)
Baltimore Arena (1986-2003)
Location 201 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Coordinates 39°17′19″N 76°37′8″W / 39.28861°N 76.61889°W / 39.28861; -76.61889Coordinates: 39°17′19″N 76°37′8″W / 39.28861°N 76.61889°W / 39.28861; -76.61889
Broke ground 1961
Opened 1962
Owner City of Baltimore
Operator SMG
Capacity 14,000 Maximum
13,650 Concerts
12,500 Basketball:
11,286 Ice Hockey,
Indoor Soccer,
Arena Football
Baltimore Bullets (NBA) (1963-1973)
Baltimore Blades (WHA) (1974-1975)
Baltimore Skipjacks (AHL) (1981-1993)
Baltimore Thunder (MILL / NLL) (1987-1999)
Baltimore Bayrunners (IBL) (1999-2000)
Baltimore Blast (MISL I) (1980-1992)
Baltimore Spirit / Blast (NPSL/MISL II/NISL) (1992-present)
Baltimore Bandits (AHL) (1995-1997)
Baltimore Blackbirds (AIFA) (2007)
Baltimore Mariners (AIFA) (2008-present)
Baltimore Clippers (AHL / SHL) (1962-1977)

1st Mariner Arena (formerly known as the Baltimore Arena and as the Baltimore Civic Center), is an arena located in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2003, it was renamed by 1st Mariner Bank, which purchased naming rights to the arena for 10 years. It was reported that 1st Mariner Bank will need to pay the city $75,000 for the next ten years to keep the naming rights to the complex. 1st Mariner Bank Arena is located about a block away from the Baltimore Convention Center on the corner of Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place; it is also only a short distance from the Inner Harbor. It seats up to approximately 14,000 people though this number varies depending on the type of event.

The arena officially opened in 1962 as the Baltimore Civic Center. It was built on the site of "Old Congress Hall," where the Continental Congress met in 1776. As a major cornerstone for the Inner Harbor redevelopment during the 1980s, it was reopened after renovations and was renamed the Baltimore Arena in 1986. It is owned by the city and is managed by SMG, a private management company. Annually, the 1st Mariner Bank Arena is host to 800,000 people.

A cornerstone to the arena was laid in the arena in 1961 with a vault that included messages from then-U.S. President John F. Kennedy, then-Maryland governor J. Millard Tawes, and then-Baltimore Mayor J. Harold Grady. The vault was opened in 2006.

The current site that was chosen for the Baltimore Civic Center was actually not one of the many sites proposed to the Greater Baltimore Committee in 1955. Among nine suggested locations there were two in Druid Hill Park, three at the end of the Inner Harbor basin (where the World Trade Center and Harborplace are now located), and one in Clifton Park.[1]


Replacement of 1st Mariner Arena

On October 16, 2004, The Baltimore Sun revealed that an official steps had been taken toward replacing the 1st Mariner Arena, then 42 years old. The Maryland Stadium Authority had started soliciting proposals for a feasibility study on building an arena in downtown Baltimore, due on November 1, 2004. According to the request for proposals that was released, the new arena would be built on the same site of 1st Mariner Arena and "would have a smaller seating capacity than would be required for an NHL or NBA team" but it doesn't specify a specific seating capacity. (Source: Ideas solicited for city arena Requires Site Registration)

On May 15, 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the feasibility study that was started in 2004 had been released publicly and the study stated that the current arena has "served its useful life" and that Baltimore must build a new arena or face the risk of losing events. The study rejected a proposal to repair the arena's aging systems, citing an estimated cost of $60 million, and instead suggested that the city demolish 1st Mariner Arena and build a new arena on the same site or elsewhere in Baltimore. Notably the proposed new arena would only seat 15,000 - 16,000 people—the study assumed that Baltimore would never be successful in attracting an NHL or NBA team in the future, either of which would require a minimum of 18,000 - 20,000 seats; however, city officials were still open to this idea. Conceivably, the new arena could be successful in attracting an arena football team and/or a minor league hockey team, bringing more than 200 new jobs and generating up to $1 million in additional tax revenue. City officials have said that the private sector would need to bear the brunt of the estimated $162 million construction cost of the new arena, as the city is also considering giving up ownership of the arena. The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) stated that it would begin seeking interested developers for the project by June 2007. BDC's President M. J. "Jay" Brody said it was a "miracle" that the current arena books as many events as it does in its current state. City officials have said the location of the new arena would be dependent on what the developers suggest. Officials stated that they are equally comfortable with (1) keeping the current arena, (2) building the new arena in a new location, then demolishing the current arena, or (3) encouraging a mixed-use development in the site of the current arena. Advocates for downtown, including the Downtown Partnership and the Westside Renaissance, want the new arena to remain in the downtown area. (Source: [1])

On November 18, 2007, WJZ 13 reported that seven sites have been submitted to the BDC for a new arena, and the choices will be narrowed down by the Spring of 2008. (Source:[2])

On July 24, 2008, it was reported that the new arena will be built on the same site as the current one, with capacity to go upwards of 18,500. It was unknown at that time what would happen to concerts and events while construction gets underway, or who would develop the new arena. However, there have been talks about building a temporary facility for events. The arena was planned to be completed within a three-year period. (Source:[3])

On August 27, 2008, The Baltimore Sun reported that developers were looking for designers to build an apartment building and outdoor shopping stores to be a part of the new 1st Mariner Arena. Also, the developers announced that they were accepting all design proposals until November 26, 2008, and that, by the Summer of 2009, they planned to make a final design decision.

On December 17, 2008, the Baltimore Examiner reported that the Baltimore Development Corp. had received 4 proposals for the 1st Mariner Arena replacement that could take away a "major entertainment venue" for Baltimore for up to "4 years" and the estimated price is $300 million, but could be more depending on additional retail and hotel uses. The arena is reported to be an 18,500 seat venue built at the same location of the current 1st Mariner Arena. The four proposals were:

ESmith Legacy and Garfield Traub Development: ESmith Legacy was a team led by former NFL player Emmitt Smith that has offices in Baltimore. This proposal included the following features in addition to the larger arena:

  • 7 screen movie theater
  • 20,000 SF of retail space
  • 1,000 seat concert venue

Streuver Brothers Eccles & Rouse: A well known Baltimore-based developer. This proposal included:

  • 300-room hotel
  • 43,000 SF of retail space

Cormony Development and Harrison Development: Respectively, Rockville- and Baltimore-based development firms who have been involved since 2007. This proposal includes:

  • 400-room hotel
  • 240,000 SF office tower
  • 12,000 SF to 20,000 SF of retail space

A&R Development, J Street Development Co., and Accent Development Co.: A partnership of Baltimore based A&R and Washington based J Street and Accent Development under the name Arena Development. This proposal includes:

  • Up to 100,000 SF of retail space

The Baltimore Examiner reported that the BDC could make a decision on the developer as soon as mid-2009.[2].

On July 8, 2009, Arena reported that Baltimore City officials had postponed their plans for constructing a new arena, due in part to the struggling economy, and the officials' decision split between building either an 18,500 seat arena for a possible NBA or NHL franchise, or constructing a mid-size facility for concerts, family events, and minor league sports.[3].

Events and tenants


The Arena has been host to many events, ranging from boxing, to music, to sports, to wrestling. In 1962 it was host to the boxing match of Joey Giardello vs. Johnny Morris. In 1963, the arena was host to a professional tennis match. Also in 1963, the arena was home to the Baltimore Bullets and was the host of the NBA All-Star Game in 1969.

In 1964, the arena was host to the the Beatles. In 1970, Jimi Hendrix performed at the arena. The venue also hosted Led Zeppelin several times through the early 1970s. A couple of scenes from the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same were filmed backstage. In 1986, the arena was host to the popular Italian Opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. Elvis Presley performed there twice, in November, 1971 and May, 1977.

In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 'gives a speech, "Race and the Church," before a gathering of Methodist clergy at the Baltimore Civic Center.' [4]


The Baltimore Arena was the home of the Major Indoor Soccer League's Baltimore Blast since they arrived in the 1980-1981 season until the league folded in 1992. The Blast won their first championship in the '83-'84 season which was attended by upwards of 11,200 fans. The new-Blast (founded as the Baltimore Spirit in June 1992) still plays at the now, 1st Mariner Arena, and just recently won their 4th championship in the last six years.

The Baltimore Arena was the home of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL) and later the National Lacrosse League (NLL) Baltimore Thunder from 1987 through 1999. The Thunder won the inaugural MILL championship. The Thunder transferred from Baltimore becoming the Pittsburgh CrosseFire in 2000, the Washington Power in 2001, and finally the Colorado Mammoth in 2003 (present team). Notable players include Gary Gait, Tom Gravante (head Men's Lacrosse coach at Mount St. Mary's University), and Hugh Donovan.

The Baltimore Arena was considered a cornerstone location for NWA/WCW wrestling, its northern capital so to speak. The Great American Bash pay-per-view was held at the arena eight times during the life of the promotion, and by the time WCW was bought by WWE, The Great American Bash had been in Baltimore for four of the five previous years. It also hosted SuperBrawl V in 1995. Sting defeated Ric Flair to win his first NWA World Championship at 1990 The Great American Bash, and Ron Simmons upset Vader in 1992 for the WCW title, becoming the first African-American to hold a major world title.

The arena has also hosted many WWWF/World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment events over the years. Most notably the 1994 King of the Ring, No Mercy (2003), No Way Out 2006, Backlash 2008, and Extreme Rules (2010) as well as multiple Raw and SmackDown!/ECW tapings. Major title changes to take place in the arena include Superstar Billy Graham over Bruno Sammartino in 1977 for the WWWF championship, Tito Santana over Greg "The Hammer" Valentine in 1985 for the WWF Intercontinental title (steel cage match).

In 1989, the arena was host to the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships. Three years later, in 1992, the International Olympic Committee held the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials there. In 1995, the arena was host to the NCAA Men's Basketball Division 1 games (Rounds 1 & 2). In 1998, the arena was host to two popular singers, Shania Twain and Elton John. In 1999, the arena was host to concerts by Roger Waters and Janet Jackson. In 2000, the arena was host to three popular singers, Britney Spears, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw. In 2001, the arena was host to the Irish musical group U2.


The arena has also been a staple on the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series bull riding tour. It first visited the Arena from 2001 to 2003, then came back again in 2008 and 2009. (Note: In 2001 and 2002, the tour was called the Bud Light Cup tour.)

In July 2004, the arena was host to the US debut of Japanese rock band L'Arc-en-Ciel, as part of the anime and east Asian culture convention Otakon.

On December 3–4, 2004, the 1st Mariner Arena hosted the last Vans Triple Crown Of Freestyle Motocross events in history. The Vans Of FMX recently stopped for FMX's placement in the Dew Tour and also a similar Vans of FMX event course can be found in IFMA Of Freestyle Motocross or the Vans Invitational track.

On February 1, 2006, the arena hosted the first The Rolling Stones concert in Baltimore since 1969, which was also at the Arena. On November 13, 2006, the arena hosted Guns N' Roses for the first time.

It was selected as the site of the 2006 Miss USA Pageant, for broadcast on live television.

On August 8, 2007, Beyoncé Knowles visited the "Marena" as a part of her tour for "The Beyoncé Experience." She also came to the arena during her I Am... Tour on June 23, 2009.

In 2007, Christina Aguilera brought her Back to Basics Tour to the arena.

On January 8, 2008, Miley Cyrus performed there as part of her "Hannah Montana" tour.

The arena also hosted a rally for presidential candidate Barack Obama on February 11, 2008.

Linkin Park also performed there for the first time February 19, 2008.

On May 15, 2008 Van Halen made a stop on their Van Halen 2007–2008 North American Tour

As part of their North American "Unleashed" tour, Fleetwood Mac performed at the arena on June 10, 2009.

Journey will be bringing their Revelation Tour to the arena on September 9, 2009.

Jay-Z performed at the arena on October 27, 2009 as part of his Blueprint 3 Tour.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the arena on November 20, 2009, recreating the entirety of their landmark album Born to Run; it was their first tour stop in Baltimore since 1973.

British rock band Muse (band) are performing on March 3, 2010 as part of their international Resistance tour for their new album the Resistance (album).

Skillet and Tobymac will perform here as part of there Awake Tonight Tour.


1st Mariner Arena is immediately adjacent to the University Center/Baltimore Street stop on the Baltimore Light Rail. The Charles Center Metro Subway Station and many bus lines are also nearby.


  1. ^ Report No. 5781 to Greater Baltimore Committee, Inc. on Proposed Civic Center for Baltimore, Nov 1, 1955. (via Enoch Pratt Free Library Maryland History dept.)
  2. ^ Andrew Cannarsa (2008-12-17). "New downtown arena project draws four interested parties". The Baltimore Examiner. p. 16. 
  3. ^ "Baltimore puts off decision on new downtown arena". Arena Digest. 2009-07-08. 
  4. ^ University of Baltimore: Riots and Rebirth Project Timeline

External links

Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Baltimore Thunder

1987 – 1999
Succeeded by
Pittsburgh Civic Arena
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Baltimore Blast

1992 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Baltimore Mariners

2008 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Chicago Coliseum
Home of the
Baltimore Bullets

1963 – 1973
Succeeded by
Capital Centre
Preceded by
Madison Square Garden
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

Succeeded by
The Spectrum

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