OCEAN CITY –The 16th Annual Sand Duels Soccer Challenge of 2011 was approved this week by the Mayor and City Council and was called the “catalyst” to bringing such events like the Dew Tour to Ocean City.
ASG Sports Director of Fun Scott Westcoat said the event has grown so large Ocean City has agreed to expand the designated space on the beach for the soccer challenge to accommodate the amount of teams participating.
“The event has grown from just a few teams to about 360 teams,” Westcoat said. “We have always been given a finite area on the beach to utilize and we have maxed that out. So through some creative and open minds we have addressed the situation and it looks like we can extend further down the beach with the new policy.”
The city’s departments have issues with the event because of problems that have occurred in the past. The Department of Public Works is concerned over the amount of trash that has been left behind each day of the event. According to department comments, there have been complaints and negative remarks in the past.
“We have had some issues in the past that have boiled down to some communication issues and I think that has been rectified,” Westcoat said.
Westcoat admitted that in the past garbage has piled up and said that the event coordinators have hired a project crew this year for cleanup.
“That is a number one priority rather than just handing a coach a garbage bag and saying please police your own area,” he said. “We want to leave the beach in as good if not better condition when we leave it.”
Ocean City Beach patrol also commented that the event cannot interfere with the normal patrolling of the beach by blocking the Dorchester Street ramp and concrete pad on the east side of the Boardwalk. The event must also be 30 feet off the easternmost edge of the train lane on the Boardwalk.
Westcoat explained that the parents of the soccer challenge participants try to be as close to the fields as possible and have actually sat in the train lane in the past. He said the issue has been alleviated because the coordinators plan on moving the events area at least 50 feet away from the Boardwalk and train lane.
With all the issues addressed, Councilwoman Mary Knight felt comfortable accepting the event, and the council voted unanimously to approve it.
Mayor Rick Meehan said merchants surrounding the event, set for June 11-12, are happy with the number of people the affair brings.
“I think it is the quality of events like this out there that convinced the promoters of the Dew Tour that we can do that event here in Ocean City,” he said.