Council sees future in sports marketing
(March 29, 2019) The Ocean City Council took initial steps this week toward constructing an indoor athletic complex to attract amateur sports tournaments after voting unanimously to request the Maryland Stadium Authority approve a feasibility study and allocated $49,000 for the venture.
Tourism and Marketing Director Donna Abbott told the council during its work session on Tuesday that Crossroads Consulting, which contracts with the Stadium Authority, has prepared a draft scope of services for a sports complex study.
“The next step, should you agree today to this proposal, is to have the mayor send a letter requesting the study to the Maryland Stadium Authority and then their board would take that consideration at their next meeting,” she said.
If the study request is approved, state statutes require the Stadium Authority to notify the General Assembly budget committees of the proposal. A 30-day review and comment period follows.
Abbott said funds are available in the Tourism Advisory Board’s budget to pay for the Crossroads Consulting study.
“They’ve done studies before on our convention center expansion,” she said.
Abbott also reported that Crossroads worked with Worcester County several years ago on a comparable effort.
“At the time, it was a professional ice hockey arena, in addition to some outdoor fields,” she said. “The result of that study was that the ice rink was not going to be feasible, but that the potential was there for athletic fields.”
Abbott said at that time the county denied a request from Ocean City to amend the study to consider an indoor complex.
Abbott said sports marketing gained fresh traction during recent discussions about increasing room tax rates, with the council voting 5-2 during its work session on March 12 to seek approval from the Worcester County Commissioners for a half percent rate increase.
Council President Lloyd Martin agreed conducting the study was a wise move.
“I think it’s a good first step,” he said.
Mayor Rick Meehan offered to lend support beyond the letter of request.
“If we have to go up (to Annapolis) and make a presentation we can do that as well,” he said.