Good thing they held on to that baltimorearena.com Web address.
What until this week had been known as 1st Mariner Arena, Baltimore's largest concert and indoor sports venue, is officially dropping the reference to 1st Mariner Bank from its name and changing back to Baltimore Arena.
"They are a great partner of ours, but it's really not fair to give them something for nothing," arena general manager Frank Remesch said of the decision to remove 1st Mariner's name from the arena, a move announced in a news release sent out Friday. "It's time to take the name off the building."
The downtown venue opened in 1962 as the Baltimore Civic Center, became Baltimore Arena in 1986 and was renamed 1st Mariner Arena in 2003, when former 1st Mariner CEO Ed Hale agreed to pay the city $75,000 a year for the naming rights. That agreement expired Jan. 1, and officials on both sides were unable to come to terms on continuing it.
Remesch said officials from Legends Sales and Marketing, a New York-based company managing the sale of the naming rights, would be meeting with 1st Mariner officials to determine when the name would actually come off the building. But as of Friday afternoon, phones at the Baltimore Street facility were being answered "Baltimore Arena," and the logo on emails from the corporate offices had reverted to the old "Baltimore Arena" logo, with the city's skyline and a sailboat to the left of a stylized letter "B."
1st Mariner will remain the "official bank" of the arena, Remesch said.
In a May interview with The Baltimore Sun, Dennis Finnegan, executive vice president of retail banking at First Mariner Bancorp, said the two sides "weren't close" to agreeing on a price for the naming rights. Reached Friday, Finnegan said nothing had changed in the ensuing two months.
"I don't know that we've had any conversations," he said. "We've still got the ATM franchise, and we do some advertising on the building."
Remesch said negotiations were underway with several companies about purchasing the naming rights. "We have a couple on the line right now," he said, declining to be more specific or set any timetable. "We're keeping our fingers crossed."
The arena is owned by the city of Baltimore and managed by SMG Holdings.