Pharrell Williams and Black Bank Involved with Makeover of Iconic Baltimore Arena
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Pharrell Williams and Black Bank Involved with Makeover of Iconic Baltimore Arena

A rendering of the proposed exterior renovations to the Baltimore Arena (Image: (Image: Oak View Group)

Pharrell Williams has been named an equity investor in the estimated $200 renovation of the iconic Baltimore Arena.

The “Happy” singer joins Maryland native and NBA basketball star Kevin Durant, whose holding company Thirty Five Ventures is also an investor.

One of America’s largest Black banks, The Harbor Bank of Maryland, along with syndicate leader Truist Bank to Oak View Group (OVG), according to a news release.

Known as the Baltimore Civic Arena when it opened 60 years ago, the arena was home of the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards). In recent years, the arena has been used for events, including concerts, college and high school basketball,  and other events.

The entertainment and sports-facilities firm will fund the arena’s total reconstruction cost in exchange for a long-term lease of the facility. The project is expected to be done by next year.

“It would have been unthinkable only five years ago that a Black-owned bank would be participating in a major deal to redesign an 11,000-seat stadium in whose shadow it sits,” National Black Bank Foundation co-founder Brandon Comer said.

“But over the last two years, which have seen deals with major professional sports teams and leagues as well as other major construction projects, we’ve proven to the market that Black banks can provide competitive rates and excellent service.”

The NBBF is a racial justice nonprofit that works with Black-owned banks.

The deal will help Harbor diversify its portfolio and boost the bank’s capital through fees generated by the loan and interest income on the property. The expanded capital capacity will “allow Harbor to underwrite new home and small business loans to local families who struggle to gain approval from major commercial banks,” per the news release.

The Harbor Bank of Maryland President John Lewis said, “As a local bank headquartered steps away from the arena, we are delighted to participate in this transaction and appreciate the importance of continued targeted investment in downtown Baltimore.”

The Harbor Bank of Maryland is on the BLACK ENTERPRISE Banks List of the nation’s largest Black-owned banks.

The hope is the overhauled arena will allow Baltimore to compete for more events and boost the local economy. It is expected to create 500 construction jobs. OVG reported its goal is to award 27 percent and 10 percent of construction subcontracts to minority business enterprises and women business enterprises, respectively.


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