OC Steers Away From Big Name Event Sponsorships

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department clarified its position on sponsorship solicitation for town events this week, noting the success it’s had in soliciting sponsorship in the past and explaining the desire to keep keynote events in Ocean City as town sponsored events.

At a Mayor and City Council meeting last month, Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster was encouraged to solicit more big name sponsors for town events and ultimately increase town sponsorship. At the time, Shuster noted that although large corporate sponsors are beneficial and utilized by the town, local sponsorship plays a major role as well.

Shuster this week presented a summary of 2007 sponsorship in Ocean City, defining their goals in solicitation of sponsorship. In 2007, a total of $178,513 in sponsorship revenue was realized.

 “Which I think is an excellent return. I would venture to say there aren’t many Rec. and Parks Departments in the U.S., let along in Maryland, that could generate this kind of revenue,” said Shuster.

Major sponsors in 2007 included Pepsi of Delmarva, which generated $62,500 in revenue, Panama Jack, which generated $12,500 in revenue, and Comcast, a new sponsor in 2007, which contributed $10,000 in revenue for the Sunfest Entertainment Tent.

The figures only reflect cash sponsorship, and according to Shuster, other in-kind sponsorship is received.

“There are other in-kind and product gifts that they give us that aren’t cash,” Shuster said of Pepsi of Delmarva.

Pepsi of Delmarva contributes “can panels”, which provides one million cans across Delmarva with advertising for town events such as Springfest and Sunfest.

The Winterfest Gala Committee continues to be a large sponsor for the town’s Winterfest of Lights, contributing nearly $14,000 last year in sponsorship.

“They’re incredible, that’s how we have entertainment at Winterfest,” said Special Events Coordinator John Sullivan.

The Ocean City Recreation Boosters remain the largest single sponsor of recreation programs in Ocean City, donating $32,500 in 2007 to support a wide variety of recreation programs.

“They truly are an example of a local community service group that has a focus of raising funds and then giving those funds directly back to the community,” Shuster said.

As for the marquee events in Ocean City, Sunfest, Springfest and the Winterfest of Lights, Shuster maintained the goal has been and continues to be to have the town presented as the major sponsor.

“We try not to put a sponsor on them so that it is a Town of Ocean City event,” Shuster said, explaining why Sunfest or Springfest have not become, the ‘Verizon’ Sunfest or the ‘Comcast’ Springfest.

“When we solicit sponsorship, we try to maintain the town’s name as the principal marquee on all the events. We’re not interested in giving away our naming rights to our own events,” Shuster said.

Councilman Jim Hall said, “I think you’re more likely to go to a town event rather than a ‘Verizon’ event.”

Sullivan added that both Springfest and Sunfest have grown enough to stand-alone as town-sponsored events.

“We’re able to operate Sunfest, Springest and Winterfest so that it’s really of no cost to the city,” he said. “We are deeply indebted to all our sponsors and donors for their support of Recreation and Parks programs, events, and facilities,” said Shuster.