On Wednesday, Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approved a $150 million renovation of the city’s venerable Royal Farms Arena in a deal with facility operator Oak View Group and its partner Thirty-five Ventures, Kevin Durant’s holding company. Durant is a native of Prince George’s County, Maryland.
The arena, known as the Baltimore Civic Center when opened 60 years ago, was the home of the Baltimore Bullets — now the Washington Wizards — for 10 years between 1963 and 1973, a time when the Bullets featured Hall of Famers Earl Monroe, Wesley Unseld and Elvin Hayes. In 1969, it hosted the NBA All-Star Game. NBA preseason games have occasionally been held at the arena in the years since Bullets moved to Washington.
In more recent years, it has become mostly a concert and family show venue as well as a site for college and high school basketball. The city has long wanted to upgrade or rebuild the downtown facility which can seat up to 14,000 fans.
The five-member board voted 4-1 in favor of the city’s lease, development and operating agreement with Baltimore Arena Company LLC, a partnership between Oakview, which operates sports and entertainment facilities and specializes in such renovations, and Thirty Five Ventures, which will be an equity investor in the arena.
The city’s mayor, Brandon M. Scott, hailed the vote and added his thanks to Durant.
Today we approved the contract to renovate The Royal Farms Arena without use of taxpayer funds. Many thanks to Oakview Partners and the best player on the planet @KDTrey5 for believing in Baltimore.https://t.co/q2Bv6CbcO8— Brandon M. Scott (@MayorBMScott) November 24, 2021
Renovations are expected to begin in February and be completed by January 2023.
The vote follows negotiations between the city and the joint venture that began in June. At the time, KD and his partner/agent Rich Kleiman expressed their thanks.
“We’re thrilled that the Baltimore Development Corporation has selected our partners at Oak View Group for this groundbreaking renovation,” said Durant and Kleiman. “OVG has proven its reputation for innovation in the venue space, and we’re looking forward to working with them to bring Baltimore Arena and a myriad sports and entertainment opportunities, to life in Baltimore.”
Oakview and Thirty Five Ventures has promised it would have 45 percent minority and women-owned business participation throughout the renovation process and reserve at least 25 percent of project investment for minorities.
The Baltimore Sun reported that under the agreement approved Wednesday, the venue would be obligated to host at least 84 events each year, including concerts, trade shows, sporting and civic events, and family shows. Developers plan to expand the arena’s capacity by as much as 10% to 15% and add significant exterior upgrades, including balconies, a plaza, lighting and sidewalk improvements, the Sun added.
Durant and Kleiman’s off-the-court acquisitions have done exceedingly well in the last few years with stakes in 70 different properties, as varied as Coinbase, the bitcoin exchange; SeatGeek, the online ticketing service used by the Nets; and Weedmaps, an app that helps marijuana fans find legal dispensaries.
Earlier this month, the two announced they’re setting up a “blank check” company formally known as a “special purpose acquisitions company” (SPAC) called Infinite Acquisition Corp to help them invest further. The two are hoping to raise $200 million, using their successes in the market to entice new investors. The Nets forward will serve as the co-CEO of Infinite Acquisition with Kleiman.
- Baltimore spending panel approves Royal Farms Arena deal, setting up ‘aggressive’ redevelopment timeline - Hallie Miller - Baltimore Sun
- Renderings of Royal Farms Arena renovations - Oak View Group