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Baltimore Arena

Baltimore, MD

Home of the CAA Tournament

3.1

4.0

Baltimore Arena (map it)
201 West Baltimore St
Baltimore, MD 21201


CAA Tournament website

Baltimore Arena website

Year Opened: 1962

Capacity: 14,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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2014 CAA Basketball Tournament

The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) is one of those mid-major conferences that gets mentioned every year during college basketball tournament time. The CAA’s George Mason Patriots appearance in the 2006 Final Four shocked many sports fans. When Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) did the same in 2011, the mid-major dam was broken (along with a great two-year run by Butler of the then-Horizon League). The CAA has also had great success in other sports, especially football, where Delaware, James Madison, Richmond and Villanova have won the Football Championship Subdivision in recent years, while Towson recently lost in the 2014 championship game. (Richmond and Villanova are football-only members of the conference at this time).

Unfortunately VCU and George Mason (and Richmond for basketball) have since left the CAA for the bigger waters of the Atlantic 10.

Richmond has been the location of the CAA Tournament since 1990. The CAA has their offices located in Richmond, but with the conference losing both VCU and Richmond, they decided to open the bidding to a new city. Baltimore, which is more centrally located between all the teams of the conference, won the bidding and will be the home for at least two additional years.

3.1

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    2

The food selection is underwhelming. The arena staff works very hard to keep the arena a viable choice for events, but the next place they need to work on is the food options.

The best value is the chicken tenders with fries meal for $10. $4.75 for hot dogs and $7 for a brat seems to be in the normal price range for these events. This is the same with the $4.75/$5.75 soda prices. Concession stands exist on the nearly-unused upper concourse, as well, but they were not used for this event. I think only sold-out concerts get their usage, as I cannot even remember a time when I saw them open.

Beer was not available at the usual food stands for this college event, although they should cover it up on their menus. A temporary sports bar called the CAA Sports Zone was located under the 100 section. It seemed to do a good business, but beer sales were limited to that area only.

The pizza stand under the north seats offers a 9" pizza for $8.50, which is a fair value. They have a full pizza oven, so it is not a bad choice. In years past, the arena had a name-brand pizza stand here, but now it is a generic pizza brand.

Atmosphere    4

The Baltimore Arena's main tenant is the Baltimore Blast of the Major Indoor Soccer League. That team does a good job of making the best out of the unique setup of the arena. But it has always seemed that the venue works best as a basketball facility.

The arena has been open since 1962, and the basketball history of the Baltimore Arena and the Baltimore Bullets is pretty interesting. They have played host to greats of the time, including hometown legend Wes Unseld. Even after moving to the Washington area, the Bullets used to play a few home games a year back here. This practice only ended when the team, now known as the Wizards, moved into DC proper.

There are still the strange corner sections where seats face each other, not the floor. And some seats towards the corner are a bit far from the floor. But being a pretty small arena makes the place seem smaller than it is, and crowd noise enhances the atmosphere.

Neighborhood    3

The arena is located a few blocks from the Inner Harbor, which is Baltimore's main tourist drag. These few blocks keep the arena from being a hotspot in town, as foot traffic is light. I am not saying it is unsafe, as talk like that is far overblown in the city. Just use caution and watch your surroundings.

Alewife is a pretty cool beer bar located nearby at 21 N Eutaw Street. The beer selection is large, but the real star may be the burgers and duck fat fries. Also nearby is B&O American Brasserie, located in the lobby of the Hotel Monaco Baltimore. The variety of high-end cocktails is pretty amazing here.

The Brewer's Art and Sammy's Trattoria on North Charles are a couple of other places with good food at decent prices. Parking in between the arena and this area may be a good choice, just stay further away from the Howard Street part of downtown. That area may not be ideal.

Baltimore is home to many touristy attractions, such as Harborplace, Fells Point and Fort McHenry. The American Visionary Art Museum on Key Highway is located on the way to Fort McHenry and should not be missed, although its unique collection will not be for everyone. Mr. Rain's Fun House is an excellent restaurant located in the museum, and could also serve as a pre-game meal location.

Fans    4

Tournaments will have varying fan bases, so it may change from game to game. But with Baltimore being a more central location than Richmond, there is more a likelihood of good fan attendance. I still imagine the extremely-located schools such as College of Charleston and Northeastern may have trouble filling the stands.

The championship game I attended was between Delaware and William & Mary, which are both not too far away and also have a good local alumni fanbase. Delaware, in particular, is located less than an hour down I-95. A decent, but far from sellout crowd was in attendance.

Both fanbases were extremely loud and into the game. Both sets of pep bands, mascots and cheerleaders also made the atmosphere rival a big-time college environment. The surfing skit from the Delaware mascot, YoUDee, was pretty fun to watch.

Access    4

The Baltimore Arena is located in downtown Baltimore, about a block from the Baltimore Convention Center and two blocks from Camden Yards. It is close to I-95, with only a couple of turns from the arena putting you on the highway home.

Parking garages can be found in all directions from the arena. One garage is even physically attached to the arena and can offer direct access without going outside. Look for parking deals to come with some event tickets. Street parking is not a great option.

Also look for night event specials at many of the local underground garages. I found one for $10 directly across from the arena. Parking is very tight at some of these, so drive a small car if you plan on using these garages.

The Baltimore Light Rail is also located right on the Howard Street side of the arena. I don't recommend using it for late-night games as security could be an issue. Light rail is also a very slow ride getting to the north suburbs.

Return on Investment    4

Student tickets were available for $7. Individual session tickets went from $20 to $50. Packages for the entire series ranged from $80 to $200. Numerous Championship Hospitality Packages were available for varying prices, which could have also included the stage VIP section and food.

The prices seemed fair, Street ticket sales were also in evidence, although I would be careful participating in some of these sales.

Extras    1

The arena seems small. But it does offer many rooms and spaces for both spectators and participants alike. Things like the temporary sports bar and many spaces for team cheerleaders and other functions are plentiful in this facility.

Final Thoughts

The Baltimore Arena is old, no doubt about it. But the facility holds up well with this kind of usage. It seemed like a success. And it has two more years to take hold.

Like most events at the Baltimore Arena, the facility will not "wow" you, but you will come out enjoying the event.

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Crowd Reviews

Colonial Championship

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

The Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA) hosts their basketball tournament at the Richmond Coliseum. The Coliseum is just a few blocks from the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) campus. The Coliseum is 41-years-old and is a bit worn, but works well for hosting the CAA tournament, something it has done for 15 years.

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Local Food & Drink

Alewife Baltimore  (map it!)

21 N Eutaw St

Baltimore, MD 21201

(410) 545-5112

http://www.alewifebaltimore.com

B&O American Brasserie  (map it!)

2 N Charles St

Baltimore, MD 21201

(443) 692-6172

http://www.bandorestaurant.com

The Brewer's Art  (map it!)

1106 N Charles St

Baltimore, MD 21201

(410) 547-6925

http://www.thebrewersart.com

Sammy's Trattoria  (map it!)

1200 N Charles St

Baltimore, MD 21201

(410) 547-6925

http://www.sammystrattoria.com

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