Ocean City Looking To Increase Sponsorship Revenue

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council will soon begin allowing individuals to be approved to represent the town to seek sponsorships for Ocean City’s events and be paid commission.

November of last year was when the Request For Proposal (RFP) Sponsorship Development, Solicitation and Sales was initially presented to the council to be approved. The RFP was created to seek sponsors to help offset expenses associated with the town’s large events. At that time, two proposals came forward, one from former Comcast executive Dean Langrall, seeking a 19.5 percent commission, as well as OC Air Show producer Brian Lilley, who proposed a 30-percent commission. The Mayor and Council concluded to table their decision on the matter wondering whether city staff could handle seeking sponsorship rather than paying others to do so.

Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster informed the council this week that Langrall is still interested in the position and it may be worth giving the program one more chance.

“We still believe it would be a good thing for the town to enter into a sponsorship arrangement with an organization,” Shuster said.

The intent is to enter a non-exclusive agreement with a vendor, or written proposals from interested parties, for development, solicitation and sale of sponsorship opportunities for specific events and activities operated by the town. The town will accept proposals to establish an agreement for the purpose of working with the town to inventory, assess value, develop, solicit and sell sponsorship opportunities to companies and individuals that may wish to enter into a sponsorship relationship with the town.

The terms to the RFP include the vendor may receive a payment for services equal to an agreed upon percentage of the gross revenue generated from a sponsorship sale to interested parties not already in a sponsorship/franchise agreement with the town, and the vendor may receive an hourly fee agreed upon by vendor and town for time spent by the vendor assisting the town in the actual fulfillment of sponsorships once they are sold. The town reserved the right to define and control the amount of time dedicated by the vendor of sponsorship fulfillment.

Councilman Brent Ashley was concerned over the 19.5 percent commission and the $100-an-hour fee Langrall has initially proposed.

“That seems kind of steep to me,” he said.

Shuster explained the proposal asked interested parties to quote a price based on a commission for an amount of sponsorships sold. The main item of Langrall’s proposal is he offered to work on a sponsorship commission of 19.5 percent on all new sponsorship in the excluded areas that would be developed for the town. The $100-an-hour figure is the contingency amount that would be charged by him should the town direct him to do work on their behalf after the sponsorship contract had already been signed.

“We would be only paying for that if in fact we got some sponsorship money,” Shuster said. “So we are not out any money by having the contract.”

Shuster said the basic commitment the town would have is he and his staff would work directly with Langrall in appraising and assessing the items to be sponsored, as well as targeting specific organizations and corporations.

“If he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid,” Councilman Doug Cymek said in response to Ashley’s concern.

Councilman Joe Hall said he understands why the town seeks sponsorships but didn’t believe in the exclusiveness to the contract with Langrall.

“I think it would be better if you [Shuster] and staff would go back and develop policy criteria which multiple individuals can approach the town with a proposal and there would be an opportunity for some sort of commission,” he said.

Councilwoman Mary Knight said she has been asking for an RFP for sponsorship for five years now. She added that the town already receives $80,000 in revenue from sponsorships and this is an opportunity to add to that amount.

Council Secretary Lloyd Martin pointed out that the council has to approve a sponsorship before a contract is made official.

“This doesn’t cost us anything,” he said. “All it does is give us an opportunity to sell.”

Council President Jim Hall agreed with Joe Hall in that the proposal should not be exclusive to Langrall’s services.

Knight set the motion to approve the RFP proposal for sponsorship under the conditions that it would remain nonexclusive, provide a 20-percent commission, remove the hourly fee, and the opportunity is available to sponsor all events, which the council voted unanimously to accept.

If Langrall approves the town’s conditions, he will be the only vendor approved at this time. Any other interested vendors have to be accepted by the council first.

“At least people know they can go out there and work it,” Joe Hall said. “They know they can come and make the offer and they know that the 20 percent is on the table.”