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  • Richard Smith

A Follow-Up Visit To The CFG Bank Arena In Baltimore

A few months back Stadium Journey reviewed the CIAA Basketball Tournament held at the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, MD. The arena had went through an amazing renovation and technically closed again after the tournament to finalize updates in time for the official grand opening, a April 7, 2023 concert by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. "Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack I went out for a ride and I never went back." will want to go back...

The arena now known as the CFG Bank Arena has a long and storied history. It opened in 1962 as the Baltimore Civic Center. During its time as the Civic Center, the arena hosted legends such as The Beatles, Martin Luther King Jr., and Led Zeppelin, as well as being the home floor of the Baltimore Bullets of the NBA until their move to near Washington, DC in 1973. The indoor soccer team, the Baltimore Blast, as well as various sports teams have also made the venue their home over the years.

The venue is also on the site of the Henry Fite House, which became known as "Congress Hall" when it briefly served as the new United States of America's seat of government from 1776–77.

The Oak View Group (OVG), which was chosen by the City of Baltimore to manage the venue, closed down the arena in early 2022 to perform a massive renovation on the aging arena. The venue is the seventh arena launched by OVG in 16 months. OVG was formed by Tim Leiweke and his business partner, Irving Azoff.

The arena is no longer the outdated dump of arena that is in so many people's memories. Renovations to the arena included new cushioned seats in the bowl and 38 new suites, refurbished concourses and upgraded concessions. The building’s signature spiked roof was preserved. Next-generation touchless and self-serve technologies for food and beverage and merchandise purchases were added, as well as numerous behind the scenes changes. The existing stage area was changed to accommodate the larger size needs of modern events.

Stadium Journey attended a recent concert by Lizzo to see how the arena runs as a concert venue. While an occasional sporting event may be held at the arena, it is obvious the changes were largely made for entertainment and not sports. The lack of an updated scoreboard demonstrates this, as sports would want a version better than exists now.

It is a bit strange for guests who have been to this venue before as the old 100-level has now been merged into the old 200-level which created a larger "new" 100-level. The concourse above this 100-level has had it's walls removed and a more open concourse was created. They will use large curtains to keep it somewhat separated for concerts where with sporting events they will likely keep it open.

The old corner seats that faced away from most of the action has now been changed to be like a more normal corner, curved seating area.

The acoustics were very good and on the higher quality end for concerts at a large arena.

If you want to see an event in Baltimore, do not let memories of the old Baltimore Arena hold you back. This is a world class venue that will be making history for quite a long time.

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