OCEAN CITY — The Performing Arts Center could see an expansion of the number and quality of concerts over the next two years after town officials this week approved a cost-sharing contract with a popular special events promoter in the resort.
The Mayor and Council on Tuesday agreed to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with Special Event Productions-TEAM Productions and Bob Rothermel to pool resources on drawing more concerts to the Performing Arts Center (PAC) in the Roland E. Powell Convention Center. Under the terms of the MOU approved on Tuesday, the Town of Ocean City will provide $40,000 in each of the next two years to bring two concerts to the PAC in fiscal year 2016 and four in fiscal year 2017.
Through the contract, Rothermel and TEAM Productions will supply the talent-buying and event management services and Ocean City will provide the funding to bring as many as six significant concert events to the PAC by the end of fiscal year 2017, including two as soon as the end of this June. In simplest terms, the MOU hopes to take advantage of Rothermel’s expertise on drawing major acts to the PAC in a partnership that allows both parties to share in the profits of the events.
Mayor Rick Meehan outlined the nuts and bolts of the MOU at the council work session on Tuesday. He explained the contract will allow Rothermel and Convention Center Director Larry Noccolino to work together on bringing major concerts to the PAC with a profit-sharing agreement between the parties, and potentially the loss-sharing.
“The goal here is to maximize our dollars and minimize our expense in promoting the Performing Arts Center and putting on shows at the center,” he said. “We will also share any losses, although we don’t anticipate that happening, as well as share 50-50 in any of the profits.”
Meehan said the MOU represents an opportunity to expand and improve the viability of the PAC, which opened in December 2014. While there have been several special events at the PAC, the MOU approved on Tuesday is expected to increase the number and quality of acts at the new venue.
“We feel this is a way to work together to co-promote and increase the viability of the Performing Arts Center and build the venue, which is our goal, and to work with somebody who is already experienced in promoting shows at the venue,” he said. “We want to move forward with this and the reason we’re moving forward now is, hopefully, there is a timetable to meet to have two concerts before the end of this fiscal year and four in the next fiscal year.”
Ocean City’s investment is protected somewhat in that the hard costs of producing a concert at the venue, from the hiring of the acts to marketing to the costs of the sounds and lights, for example, will be deducted from the gate revenues before any profits are shared. Whatever profits remain after the hard costs will be shared equally between the town and the promoter.
“I think this is a win-win for the town and the promoter as well,” said Meehan. “I think this is a great opportunity and I think it is something we’re all looking forward to expanding.”
Councilman Wayne Hartman said the MOU on the table on Tuesday had been carefully scrutinized by the town’s elected officials, Noccolino, Rothermel and all parties involved and made a motion to approve the MOU.
“I think what we have before us is a very balanced agreement,” he said. “It does allow us to bring performances to the Performing Arts Center that we might not have gotten without this partnership.”
Councilman Dennis Dare pointed out the PAC, and the convention center in general, involves a shared partnership between the town and the Maryland Stadium Authority and asked whether the MSA should be allowed to sign off on the agreement.
“The convention center is a joint venture with the Maryland Stadium Authority,” he said. “I think this agreement ought to be reviewed with them. I don’t see the harm in asking them if the contract meets their approval.”
Hartman asked Noccolino if the MSA weighed in on the types and numbers of special events booked at the PAC and questioned if the MSA should be brought into the fold. Noccolino said the while the town was partners with the MSA, state officials thus far had little input on the number and types of performances at the PAC, or the convention center in general, for that matter.
“I would rather make them aware of what we’re doing rather than asking them for approval,” he said. “We’ve never had to have approval from the MSA for any other event at the Performing Arts Center. As long as we’re in line with our budget, they don’t need to approve everything.”
With that said, Hartman’s motion was amended to make the MSA aware of the contract with TEAM Productions was approved unanimously with Councilman Tony DeLuca absent.