Baltimore tripleheader: Orioles home opener; Bruce Springsteen, Eagles band at CFG Bank Arena

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews CFG Bank Arena (Part 1)

If you’re a local baseball fan — or just a fan of classic rock — it’s a great weekend to visit Baltimore, Maryland.

Not only does Friday mark the home opener at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, it also marks the launch of the newly renovated CFG Bank Arena with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band performing on Friday and the Eagles band on Saturday.

“Baseball has doubleheaders; I’m offering you a tripleheader: You have the Orioles, Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles all in one weekend,” CFG Bank Arena General Manager Frank Remesch told WTOP. “If you’re going to do it, go big or go home. Between Bruce and the Eagles, can you get any better of a weekend? Are you kidding me?”

His personal favorite Springsteen song is “Glory Days,” but he says it’s impossible to pick a favorite Eagles tune.

“I have friends that I hang out with, we’re very eclectic from country to rock ‘n roll, from Megadeath to John Denver, and the one group that everyone agrees upon is the Eagles,” Remesch said. “You forget how many No. 1 songs that they’ve had until you just sit back and listen, so this one-two punch is a bucket list for me.”

It should be a bucket list for everybody. The Boss ranks No. 12 all-time on the RIAA’s list of artists with the most albums sold, while the Eagles rank as high as No. 4, behind only The Beatles, Garth Brooks and Elvis Presley. All of those legends have played the venue since it first opened as the Baltimore Civic Center back in 1962.

“Elvis has played here, Led Zeppelin has played here, The Beatles have played here and Garth Brooks has played here,” Remesch said. “That’s what’s great about doing what they did and keeping the history of this building. I can still go back and say, ‘The Beatles walked right where that stage was, Martin Luther King gave a speech on that stage,’ and then I have a new building on top of it, so somewhere in these hallowed halls are those souls.”

The venue has had numerous names from Baltimore Arena to 1st Mariner Arena to Royal Farms Arena before sitting empty during the COVID-19 pandemic. After a Guns N’ Roses concert in fall 2021, it hosted the CIAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments before being bought by the Oak View Group for 11 months of renovations.

“This isn’t lipstick on a pig, this was a 100% evisceration of the inside of the building, nothing was left but the pillars,” Remesch said. “It’s absolutely beautiful, the amenities are first-rate, it looks like a brand-new building on the inside, the bars, bathrooms, hallways, suites — we only had two suites before, now we have 38 — and the acoustics were totally overhauled. … The worst seat in my house is pretty much the suite level in other buildings.”

The exterior of the building also got a makeover with two outdoor terraces on the third and fourth floors holding 160 and 140 people each. These aren’t some exclusive VIP experience; they’re open to anyone with a general admission ticket, featuring a bar window to order your favorite beverage as you sip outside with city views.

CIAA Basketball
This photo provided by the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) shows CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. The arena is hosting the opening day of games of the CIAA Tournament. Baltimore is hosting the NCAA Division II tournament for historically Black colleges and universities for the second consecutive year and attracts friends, families and alumni. (Donald Watkins/CIAA via AP)

“The outside is going to be gorgeous,” Remesch said. “We’re doing a brand new marquee and lighting system that basically covers two sides of the building that’s all electronic, you’ve got to see it at night, nothing like it, totally modern. Then we did a total green space outside, as much as you can in the city surrounded by four streets.”

The spring and summer lineup also features:

  • Adam Sandler on April 21
  • New Edition on April 22
  • Lizzo on May 9
  • Janet Jackson on May 13
  • Anita Baker on May 14
  • Blink-182 on May 26
  • Bryan Adams on June 6
  • Chris Stapleton on July 15
  • Thomas Rhett on July 21
  • Lionel Richie with Earth, Wind & Fire on Aug. 19
  • Queen with Adam Lambert on Oct. 4
  • John Mayer on Oct. 20
  • KISS farewell tour on Nov. 29

“Pre-COVID, I was probably doing about 105 shows a year, 20 to 25 concerts and maybe one or two A-listers; now I’ll do 130 a year, 60 concerts and 40 A-listers — that shows you the difference,” Remesch said. “We (previously) drew about 560,000 (people per year); we’ll be over a million now. You can extrapolate those numbers out about what it does for the local economy. … Just like the MCI Center did for Chinatown, you’ll see that here too.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews CFG Bank Arena (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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