In recent years, Ocean City has regressed when it comes to its shoulder season popularity, and many businesses in the area understand that well.
That’s why news of a capital project that undoubtedly boost offseason business and give visitors a reason to return to the resort area more often should be explored with serious due diligence.
The latest pitch of this sort is the performing arts auditorium, which is planned to be a featured amenity in the second phase of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center expansion.
The Ocean City area will always struggle in cold weather. That’s life in a seasonal resort, but the last few years it’s been more dreadful than usual. Much of the scarcity in offseason business can be traced to the real estate industry and the fact development is not what it once was or even should be in normal times. Furthermore, the golf industry is not booking the same volume of rounds it once was in April, May, September and October and subsequently is not drawing the shoulder month crowds it once did.
No matter the reason, there are just not as many people in Ocean City in the offseason as there was as early as five years ago.
Another part of the problem is many who do live here year-round simply do not have the disposable income to eat out or buy luxury items as they once did. Belts are being tightened, resulting in an even greater dependence on visiting clientele.
The shoulder months do not have to be so incredibly deflating for the bottom line of those businesses that chose to stay open throughout the year or even simply beyond the traditional summer season. There are ways to keep revenue coming in to the town and the private sector throughout the year, and the easiest answer is and always has been special events.
That’s why having a venue like a state-of-the-art performing arts auditorium could be so valuable.
In the printing industry, down press time is the enemy. The goal of most printers is to always have a job on their press. It’s called not going dark, and a similar thought process should guide the city when it comes to selling this auditorium.
Once it’s open and operational, we don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect this auditorium’s calendar of events to, at a minimum, have every weekend booked throughout the year and at least a couple events during the week.
If the city is able to book diverse events throughout the year, more visitors will inevitably find Ocean City appealing and find reasons to come here and book a weekend at a hotel or condo and eat their meals out in the area. It may even open Ocean City to another host of visitors who have never been here previously.
The excitement felt at City Hall by supporters this week is understandable, as this could indeed be another jewel in Ocean City’s crown, and it will be one of the few that’s not dependent on the weather.