(June 26, 2020) The Ocean City convention center on 40th Street has lost more than $1 million in revenue so far this year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the mass cancelation of events that followed.
In late April, Noccolino told Ocean City Today that the majority of the center’s revenue is generated between January and June. Noccolino said 35 events had already canceled, 10 more were anticipated to cancel and 28 had rescheduled.
At the time, Noccolino projected losses of $700,000.
“It’s now exceeds $1 million,” Noccolino said Wednesday morning. “We can never make up lost revenue. We can never go back in time. The lost revenue goes back to March 13 or 14, and goes all the way through October. We can never make that revenue up — it is gone forever.”
Nevertheless, a few events remained on schedule this summer.
“As of right now, we are hosting a drawing for the Maryland State Firemen’s Association,” Noccolino said.
In addition to the firemen’s event, which was limited to 20 attendees, the convention center hosted on Wednesday and Thursday the Blood Bank of Delmarva blood drive.
On July 19, the convention center will tentatively see the Star Power dance competition return, and from July 23-24, Delmarva Volleyball is slated to host its tournament.
Following the volleyball tournament, the next event to take place at the center will be Ocean City Jeep Week, a predominantly outdoor event held at the end of August.
All events will follow strict health and safety protocol, including limited capacity, social distancing and temperature and health screenings of all visitors.
The convention center will also implement a “no audience” rule for events, which really means no one outside of immediate family of participants will be allowed to attend.
The Star Power talent show, for instance, is typically held in the center’s main exhibition halls and ballroom, and is host to thousands of guests.
This year, however, the talent show will be staged in the building’s Performing Arts Center, which holds a maximum of 1,212 seats.
“Their seating capacity in there this time around will be 600 people, or roughly 50 percent, and again immediate family only,” Noccolino said.
One silver lining has been construction work with the convention center’s third phase of renovations, which has been expedited because it is no longer inhibited by the presence of people.
“They are on a roll,” Noccolino said. “That is the only silver-lining of this covid-19 thing.”
Additionally, on Tuesday, the Ocean City Council approved a five-year contract renewal request with the convention center’s food service management and vending company, Centerplate, a Sodexo Company.
Centerplate, which has provided service to the convention center for 22 years, will invest $500,000, and will continue paying the city commissions based on annual gross receipts.
Half of the $500,000 will be due on Sept. 1, while the other half will be invested in foodservice capital projects.
The agreement would also leave the option to renew an additional five years upon mutual agreement between Centerplate and resort officials.
In spite of the challenges presented by the pandemic, Noccolino expressed his gratitude to the local business community.
Noccolino said local hoteliers and restaurateurs have constantly expressed their desire to help the convention center in any way, despite also suffering major revenue losses,
“I’ve done business in three major cities outside of Ocean City in my career, [and] I have never been part of community that was so philanthropic and giving as Ocean City is,” Noccolino said.