By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
Under Armour the multi-billion dollar sports equipment company based in Baltimore revealed plans to downsize and consolidate its operation as the company and the nation continue to grapple with the coronavirus global pandemic.
During a virtual press briefing on April 19, the company said it would shift the global campus on a 50-acre site at the Port Covington location, adjacent to the Cherry Hill community of South Baltimore.
“Reimagined for a post-COVID environment, this new location will consolidate the company’s global corporate and America’s regional functions into one location,” Under Armour said in a statement.
“The campus will represent the future of performance grounded in innovation, that embodies the ethos we live, breathe and sweat as a team every single day,” said Under Armour CEO and President, Patrick Frisk. “We are excited to continue our commitment to the City of Baltimore and provide an even better workspace for teammates, a new retail location and a best-in-class athletic facility, as we plan for the future of the brand.”
The move is motivated to a significant extent by the national paradigm shift related to the coronavirus pandemic according to Neil Jurgens, senior vice president, real estate at Under Armour.
“We’re excited to talk about the consolidation of Under Armour and moving forward at Port Covington where we’re going to bring everyone together in space that is being designed to really account for all kinds of lessons learned over the last several years, particularly over the last 14 months of COVID, of really providing flexible and adaptable workspace that will enable our teammates to work at their peak levels” Jurgens said. “And take this work like integration…to the next level. This will enable us to reduce our real estate footprint, it will reduce our carbon footprint…with a big focus on sustainable design, which we’ve done in the past and continue to do,” he added.
“And this will happen over a four-year period that will be phased starting with the first delivery in 2022, and completing at the end of 2024.”
The downsizing will result in about a 40 percent physical reduction of the operation according to Jurgens, who said the architecture for the consolidation had not been awarded yet. He also emphasized that no TIF (tax increment financing) dollars were being used during the process.
“Under Armour will not use any TIF funds to construct any of the Under Armour improvements on its campus,” he said. “It’s key that it’s clear that Under Armour and the mixed use are completely separate projects.”
Under Armour’s consolidation has also been driven specifically by the major shifts in the work process of the company’s “teammates” (employees) facilitated by the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted the vast majority of Americans.
“We decided we need a new strategy. As the teammates began to continue to work from home we saw different ways of working emerging even if we didn’t design them,” said Tchernavia Rocker, Under Armour’s Chief of People and Culture.
“So, taking advantage of those lessons learned… summer going into fall we said let’s really think about what a new way of working looks like. Because we know that work habits have shifted. So we began the process of…deeper investigations with our teammates through surveys and focus groups to really align on what does their vision of the future of work looks like,” Rocker added.
“We had a lot of conversations with our executive leadership team to get everybody really comfortable with the idea of, it will never be the same. And since it will never be the same how can we adapt and adopt our campus to really facilitate that. Adapt and adopt policies that enable this hybrid way of working.”
The athletic venue at the Port Covington campus will feature an NCAA-regulation track and field facility, a multi-sport playing field and basketball courts to serve primarily as a testing ground for the company’s product development. The athletic facility will be available to Under Armour employees, as well as the greater Baltimore community through shared-use agreements and for special events.
The campus is expected to be fully occupied by 2025.