OCEAN CITY – Dew Tour and Ocean City officials set the record straight Wednesday after accusations made blaming the resort for the event’s decision not to return in 2015.
At the conclusion of Tuesday afternoon’s Mayor and City Council work session, Mayor Rick Meehan announced the Dew Tour will not be returning to Ocean City this summer.
Dew Tour consultant Chris Prybylo called Meehan over the weekend explaining the Dew Tour had changed executive management and will be taking on a new format this year that did not include an East Coast location.
Dew Tour events are premium action sports and lifestyle festivals combining the best in action sports competitions. The event stops in three or four different locations a year and had chosen Ocean City as a beach location for the past four years, resulting in a record breaking attendance each year.
“I want to thank the Dew Tour for four great years in Ocean City, and for all that they did. It was truly a family event that had become a signature event for Ocean City. It exemplified what we are all about of being outdoors and on the beach, and it had become nationally known by those who had never heard of Ocean City by the tremendous coverage that we had received on NBC and re-runs on ESPN. It was a great event but all good things move on. We went out on a high note by setting record breaking attendance records…but we will move on in 2015,” the mayor said.
Later Tuesday, after negative comments were posted to social media in response to news spreading about its decision, the Dew Tour released the following statement, “Ocean City has been a fantastic host city and partner for the Dew Tour for the past four years. As we plan for a new season in 2015, we will be looking to reach different markets, and will not hold an event in Ocean City. The support of Mayor Rick Meehan, the Town of Ocean City and the City Council has been tremendous in making the Dew Tour a success into our Beach event foray; we appreciate their continued support as we look to evolve the Dew Tour this year. We are still in the planning phases for the 2015 season and look forward to announcing our schedule and subsequent event details in the coming months. The Dew Tour explores many options when planning its schedule each year, and we look forward to working with Mountain Dew as we finalize our plans.”
In March of 2011, despite facing stiff competition from other resort towns, Ocean City was chosen to host the Dew Tour. While it was the seventh year that the tour had existed, it was the first time it would be hosted on the beach, allowing unique events for the Ocean City stop that other host cities were not able to provide, such as a surf competition.
In July of 2011, approximately 73,000 fans experienced the Dew Tour Pantech Open in downtown Ocean City for the first time, which was the highest attendance in the event’s history.
Prior to coming to Ocean City, the Dew Tour was held in Baltimore for two years and the largest crowd that gathered there were around 55,000. Baltimore city tourism leaders claimed the event generated roughly $10 million in economic impact when they hosted the tour in 2009.
In the first year, the projected cost to the Town of Ocean City was around $19,000, mostly due to loss of revenue from the Inlet parking lot over the course of the four-day event. However, it was explained that the Dew Tour is televised by a number of large networks, including MTV, USA and NBC, both in the country and internationally. Early estimations resulted in Ocean City receiving at least $6 million worth of advertising due to exposure from the tour, not to mention millions more going to hotels, restaurants and other area businesses.
In its second year, the Dew Tour was held in downtown Ocean City in August of 2012. Again, the event was record breaking receiving 93,000 attendees. The 2012 event resulted in $97,000 in expenses for the Town of Ocean City between loss in revenue and in-kind services, such as labor costs.
Despite the rising costs for Ocean City, city officials welcomed the Dew Tour back to the downtown in June of 2013 with another record breaking attendance of 103,000 attendees. It was well known that the Dew Tour returns the favor by providing the town millions of dollars in positive economic impact from lodging, food beverage, recreation, as well as through their extensive marketing and exposure of Ocean City across the world.
In 2014, the Dew Tour was held in downtown Ocean City in June and reached an all-time high of 105,000 attendees. At that time, The Dispatch asked if the Dew Tour would return in 2015.
“The hospitality of the city and enthusiasm of the fans within Ocean City certainly helped contribute to its success,” Alli Sports President Eric Grilly said. “Our focus has been on preparing and planning the event for 2014; once we have our plans for the 2015 Dew Tour finalized we will begin conversations with host locations once again.”
However, in August 2014 Prybylo came before the Mayor and City Council requesting to hold the dates June 17-21 for the Dew Tour in Ocean City in 2015, and the council voted to approve. The costs to the city were unknown at the time of the request.
Following Tuesday’s announcement that the Dew Tour will not be returning in 2015, critics took to social media accusing the Town of Ocean City of being money hungry and conspiring some underlying reason for the Dew Tour not to return.
The Dispatch spoke to Dew Tour GM Chris Stiepock on Wednesday.
“As far as the new format, we always change things. There is no Dew Tour that has always been the same. It is just the natural course of action for an event,” Stiepock said. “It is uncommon for the event to stay in one place for a very long time. It has to do with many different things but also exposing the brand, both the Dew Tour and Mountain Dew brand, to different territories and different people, and working with different markets to spread the event and spread action sports.”
Stiepock furthered Ocean City demanding a bigger paycheck was not the case when it came to their decision.
“Ocean City has been great, responsive and friendly,” he said. “Every deal with every city that we have ever been to is in exchange for goods and service, so it is a combination of rates for hotel rooms where we stay, permits that we need, and assistance from police and fire, etc. It is a detailed arrangement in exchange for goods and services, and none of that changed as far as the deal that was on the table.”
Stiepock reiterated that Ocean City had nothing to do with the Dew Tour’s decision not to return.
“Ocean City has been a great location to hold the event. We have enjoyed being there. It really is a good fit for the Dew Tour. The city services were always great, and our concerts always ran smooth. The crowd was always responsive and happy to be there,” Stiepock said. “It is just the normal course of action for an event that has been in existence as long as the Dew Tour has to move on to different markets to expose and grow the brand.”
Stiepock concluded that the door has been left open in the Dew Tour conducting business with Ocean City in the future.
In 2013 and 2014 the Town of Ocean City and the Dew Tour signed a basic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that spelled out the different responsibilities of the two parties. Besides the MoU, the two parties held a marketing agreement that also spelled out the different entities responsibilities on the advertising end.
According to Ocean City Tourism Director Donna Abbott, none of the contracts between the Town of Ocean City and the Dew Tour included a clause that had the event remain in Ocean City over a given period of time, let alone have Ocean City remain a permanent stop for the Dew Tour.
Abbott furthered while the economic impact for Ocean City was initially estimated at $6 million that figure has certainly grown over the years along with the growth in attendance.
“The visuals provided money could not buy. From a tourism standpoint this event was worth the cost to the city,” Abbott said. “From a sports marketing standpoint, which we are increasing our attention on, this event served as a marketing tool in itself. The experience of hosting and supporting the Dew Tour carries forward, and that is a value in itself when you are marketing your destination.”
Abbott pointed out between the OC Air Show, conferences and various sporting events the month of June will continue to be busy and bring in revenue despite losing the Dew Tour.
“They may not be as visible as to what the public is looking for but in terms of economic impact they will certainly help,” Abbott said. “We hate to see an event leave but we are not going to stop our efforts to attract other events.”
In regards to the downtown water tower that reads “Welcome to Ocean City, Maryland Proud Home of the Dew Tour”, Stiepock stated as of right now there has been no discussions of removing the logo from the water tower. However, there has been mention of the Dew Tour leaving some kind of legacy in downtown Ocean City.
Abbott said the message is becoming weathered and will eventually have to be updated whether it is with the Dew Tour’s logo or not.