Sports Legends Museum Lacked Visitors at Camden Station

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Camden Station (Pressbox Photo)
Camden Station (Pressbox Photo)

A day after the Baltimore Sports Legends Museum announced it had closed at its current location at Camden Station near Oriole Park, an executive of the Maryland Stadium Authority, which owns the building, said the authority was inviting suggestions for the building’s future from prospective tenants.

“We’ve been seeking proposals for a while, and we hope to have them by Oct. 31,” authority executive director Michael Frenz said Oct. 13.

“We’re looking for something that hopefully could contribute to the vibe in that area on game days,” Frenz added.

The authority is not obligated to accept any of the suggestions, he said.

Camden Station is located adjacent to The Warehouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The former railroad station, with its Italianate architectural style and distinctive towers, was built in the mid-19th century and is historically significant, in part, because of its associations with the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, who traveled through the station.

Among possible uses for the building would be as a restaurant, Frenz said. The lease for the second-floor museum expires next September, Frenz said.

There may be some areas of the building that could not be materially altered because of historical considerations, Frenz said.

The Sports Legends Museum displayed artifacts and exhibits spanning the broad panorama of Baltimore and Maryland sports, including the Orioles, Colts, Ravens, Blast, Negro League baseball teams, University of Maryland and other regional colleges.

The museum — run by the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation that also operates the nearby Babe Ruth Birthplace on Emory Street — said it had reached impasse with the stadium authority on a lease renewal and decided to leave right away to begin its search for a new home.

While the museum has been widely praised for its stewardship of the area’s sports heritage, there simply was not enough visitation at Camden Station to provide the museum with reliable admissions revenue. Museum officials said it could take one to two years to find and establish a new home.

Frenz said at Camden Station the museum was paying far below market rates for its rent, and the authority was not in a position to subsidize the cultural attraction through a deeply discounted rent.

He said the museum was seeking rent that was about a quarter of what many Warehouse tenants pay. The authority wanted a rent that would have eventually brought the museum’s rent to a little less than half of what Warehouse market rates would be, he said.

A museum official noted when the closing was announced that the sports museum was one of the few cultural attractions in the state that paid rent.

“If there is to be a subsidy for the sports museum, it should come explicitly from Annapolis,” Frenz said, referring to state government, “and not through the rent here.”

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