Air Show’s Fiscal Impact Difficult To Quantify For All

OCEAN CITY — The Air
Show has quickly become a signature annual event in Ocean City, but it hasn’t
quite yet reached the top yet, according to many local businesses.

Last week’s 3rd
Annual Ocean City Air Show, which, coupled with several other large events like
the Raven’s Roost Convention and the OC Car and Truck Show, helped draw more
than 200,000 people to the resort and provided a strong boost for the local
economy.

Yet, although there is
seemingly no one in the town that is saying that the Air Show shouldn’t be
continued, there are some that aren’t quite ready to put it in the same
economic boosting category as Bike Week, Cruisin’ or the White Marlin Open.

“It’s definitely a
daytripper event,” said Princess Royale General Manager Jon Tremellen. “There
is no question that it is a great event for the town, and for all the

spectators, and all four events last weekend were worthy events.  But, those events still don’t have enough

people that are staying overnight.  You
would almost have to be obsessed with aviation to come to an air show every
year and stay overnight.”

Some of the larger
uptown hotels went into last Friday night at less than 80 percent occupancy,
although Tremellen said that Saturday night was full capacity at his
establishment.

“It may just be a
geographical thing, because the majority of those big special events are
headquartered downtown,” said Tremellen. “Maybe the town needs a big event at
Northside Park for this end of town, but again, the events are still fun and
exciting and the city did a great job to make things go off flawlessly, even
though they may not have put as many heads in beds as some of the other big
events we have in Ocean City.”

Other businesses
throughout town were noticeably less than full in the evening hours during Air
Show weekend, which when compared to other events like Bike Week, or Crusin’
for instance, may indicate that the Air Show doesn’t have quite as large of an
impact on the bottom line for businesses quite yet.

“I think having the
Thunderbirds really validates that event,” said Tremellen. “If you look at the
lineup, it was pretty similar to last year, but having the Thunderbirds here
has really given the event a huge amount of credibility as it continues to
grow.”

Brad Hoffman, one of the
event organizers of the OC Car and Truck Show, said that in the nine years he
and his team have spent building the event in Ocean City, he estimates that
they’ve brought in more than $33 million in economic impact for local
businesses.

“I thought the city did
a great job in keeping traffic moving and handling all the different events
that went on last weekend,” said Hoffman. “If I were to have my event on the
same show as the Air Show next year, I would hope that the town would

cross-promote both events in a more of a ‘wings and wheels’ type event.  If you are having two major events the same

weekend, it would make sense to pair them up and cross market them more
efficiently.”

Hoffman estimates that
more than 10,000 spectators came through the doors at the convention center
last weekend.

“We were told by several
people over the weekend that our event has eclipsed the Spring Break Nationals
event in Daytona Beach, which is considered one of the top events out there,”
said Hoffman. “This year, our date was a little earlier than we would have
liked, as we like to be right in the middle of that Senior Week rush, so we
hope in the future, because of how much money we’ve spent and brought to the
town, the OC Car and Truck Show isn’t an afterthought in the town’s eyes.”

Mayor Rick Meehan said
that the Air Show’s placement in early June was always designed to help provide
a boost to a usually slow time in the summer.

“We put it in early June
to get people to town and to help the local businesses,” said Meehan. “We have
had 200,000 in town on that particular weekend only twice in the last 10 years,
so I don’t know where we could go and spend $50,000 anywhere else and have such
a big impact and create what has become a signature family event in Ocean
City.”

The town continued to
provide $50,000 in seed money to the event, and, according to Budget Manager
Jennie Knapp, the town didn’t cut a big check per se, but rather, it has
allotted some costs to cover for the event such as smoke oil and public address
announcer costs, for example.

“As of today, and I know
that I haven’t gotten all the orders in yet, we are up to about $41,000 in
expenditures for the Air Show,” said Knapp.

The first year, the town
recouped almost none of its seed money and last year, only recouped a mere
$14,000, but as Meehan points out, there are other special events that the town
holds, which also run at a much larger deficit, such as the Winterfest of
Lights for instance.

“It is a great event,
whether it’s for daytrippers, or people coming to stay overnight, or just an
event that draws down all the condo owners,” said Meehan. “The Air Show has a
significant economic impact in Ocean City and was always designed to give June
a big boost and I think that it has done that in just a few years.”

 

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