A 10,000-seat soccer stadium could be coming to Port Covington, depending on the results of a feasibility study requested by Mayor Brandon Scott.
The Maryland Stadium Authority voted 4 to 0 Tuesday to explore the feasibility of constructing a soccer stadium somewhere in Baltimore City, and to make the Port Covington renewal district one of the areas under consideration.
The vote came after Al Tyler, vice president with the stadium authority’s Capital Projects Development Group, told the board that Scott asked for the study and for state to pay one-third of the study’s cost.
Tyler said Scott did not have a specific site in mind for the stadium but wanted Port Covington to be considered.
“The stadium will host an organization by the name of Right To Dream as its primary tenant,” Tyler said. “Right to Dream follows an academy-style model that uses soccer as a means to provide educational and athletic opportunity to under-privileged children. It’s very similar to the…IMG Academy,” a boarding school in Bradenton, Florida that offers academic classes and sports training.
The academy “operates on a campus, which usually includes residential and academic buildings as well as a multi-purpose stadium,” Tyler said. “The other thing that the stadium is envisioned to host is a men’s and a women’s USL [United Soccer League] professional team that Right to Dream has the exclusive rights to operate.”
The City of Baltimore and Right to Dream “envision that the residential and academic buildings will be privately funded and they’re envisioning that the stadium be publicly funded and owned and operated by the stadium authority,” Tyler told the state board.
“This study includes a market and research analysis related to professional soccer and the USL in Baltimore to see what that activity would generate as well as what any other sort of multi-use, multi-purpose activity would generate in Baltimore as well as an operational and economic impact analysis from owning and operating a new stadium in the city of Baltimore,” so state officials will have information about what impacts the project would have, he explained.
The study will cost $62,000. Tyler said City of Baltimore and private funding sources would cover two-thirds of the study’s cost, roughly $41,333, and Scott asked the stadium authority to pay the other third, roughly $20,667. Members were told that state funds are available to pay for the study in the fiscal year that began July 1.
Tyler stressed that the mayor does not have a specific city site in mind for the soccer stadium, except that he wants Port Covington to be considered.
“It’s not otherwise site-specific,” Tyler said. “There is a potential site that the Right to Dream and City of Baltimore folks are talking to Port Covington about. However, this is a non site-specific, other than the City of Baltimore, effort.”
Port Covington is a former industrial area in south Baltimore that is being transformed to a mixed-use community with housing, offices, shops and recreational use. The largest single parcel is a 235-acre tract with some land already targeted for recreational and open space.
Tyler gave no cost estimates for the stadium and said it was unclear at this point how much land would be needed for the stadium and surrounding campus. He said the study and the “style of stadium” will help determine the amount of land needed.
Agreeing to work on the study does not in itself represent a commitment to move ahead with the project or take an ownership interest, he added.