Sports apparel company Under Armour is planning a massive development project for a new headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. To do so, they could receive the biggest subsidy deal in Baltimore's history.
The nation’s second-largest sports apparel company, Under Armour, has been expanding rapidly over the last six years, according to Slate. In January of 2016, the company announced plans to leverage this growth into a sprawling new company headquarters in Port Covington, located in Baltimore.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the planned campus includes three skyscrapers and a small stadium. It will be built on around 50 acres of land on the East Coast waterfront. The headquarters will be designed by architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, best known for designing the glass Apple Store in New York and Pixar’s West Coast offices.
Neil Jurgens, the vice president of corporate real estate for Under Armour, called the project a “game changer” for Baltimore. He told the Baltimore Sun, “When people see the commitment that Under Armour has to the city and how we’re going to grow here, other people are going to want to be a part of that.”
The company’s stock jumped more than 20 percent after the announcement, says the Baltimore Sun.
The project had garnered significant controversy for the planned use of around half a million dollars in city funds through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) package, according to Baltimore Brew. TIF packages are generally used to encourage investment in underdeveloped or impoverished areas.
The TIF funds would be used for public infrastructure in the area to make the campus possible -- like roads and bike paths -- but not the new headquarters itself, Slate says. The funding would be paid back over the next few decades through property tax revenue.
Lawrence Brown, an assistant professor at Morgan State University, summed up much of the opposition to the plan in a series of tweets after the funding proposal, calling TIFs “handouts for wealthy corporate developers.” According to Baltimore Brew, he asked, “What could Freddie Gray’s neighborhood … do with $535M?”