(Feb. 8, 2019) Hoping to proceed with the final phase of expansions at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, Ocean City officials were scheduled to testify before the Maryland Senate on Wednesday during the an initial hearing for legislation permitting the Maryland Stadium Authority to appropriate more than $20 million toward the projects total cost of $34 million.
Senate Bill 177, which had a first reading in the Budget and Taxation Committee on Jan. 21, was scheduled for an initial hearing this Wednesday. Along with cross-filed House Bill 178, the measures would be effective starting July 1.
Last August, Gov. Larry Hogan announced plans for the state to contribute $20 million for the final phase of expansions at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center.
Hogan made the announcement at the convention center during the Maryland Association of Counties 2018 Summer Conference in Ocean City, where he was joined by Mayor Rick Meehan, Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman Tom Kelso and Executive Director Michael Frenz, and Ocean City Convention Center Executive Director Larry Noccolino.
Despite Hogan’s affirmation in August, the appropriation bill still requires legislative approval during the General Assembly 2019 session, which began last month.
Speaking during the City Council meeting on Monday, Meehan said in addition to testifying in Annapolis on Wednesday, Noccolino and City Engineer Terry McGean accompanied him to meet Senate committee leaders the week before.
“We got a positive response,” he said. “The lawmakers in Annapolis truly understand the convention center and its importance to Ocean City and the state.”
The proposed senate bill would authorize the stadium authority to facilitate the third phase of renovations and increases the total sum the Board of Public Works can issue in bonds from $17.3 million to $24.5 million.
The Maryland Stadium Authority previously worked with Ocean City on two additional expansions of the convention center, since the original expansion in 1996.
In addition to creating hundreds of employment opportunities, the third phase of expansions is slated to add 30,000 square-feet to the facility and anticipated to have an economic impact of up to $67 million a year.