Report Shows Ocean City’s Rec Programs Booming

OCEAN CITY – The number of participants in Recreation and Parks programs and tournaments are up this year, but one city officials was quick to remind the department of the current lean times.

The Recreation and Parks Department gave an update to the Mayor and Council on 2011’s activities and a glimpse of what lies ahead.

“We are really happy to report that our numbers are bigger than they have been in a number of years at Northside Park,” Recreation Superintendent Kate Gaddis.

The youth indoor soccer program has 300 participants from 1st through 10th grades. The girl basketball league has 99 participants from 3rd to 8th grades and the boys’ basketball league has over 215 participants from 3rd to 12th grades. The youth dodgeball events have 60 to 80 participants and play two times a month. Pizza with Santa this year maxed out at 80 participants and the youth midnighter events had 120 participants. The men’s soccer league has approximately 240 participants. The department also offers other smaller programs such as cheerleading, soccer clinic, dance classes, aerobics, dog obedience, and swim lessons.

“There is a lot going on up at Northside Park right now and it is a fun time of year,” Gaddis said.

Councilwoman Mary Knight pointed out that the department’s winter programs are bringing people to the north end of town during the off season.

“Besides preforming a very good service for our community, this is tourism, this is real dollars, and this is an increase in our food tax,” she said.

Next, Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster reviewed 2011’s sports tournament season.

“I am pleased to report that we had a very productive sports tournament season at Northside Park in 2011,” he said.

Ocean City hosted 39 private sporting events that attracted an estimated 19,650 participants. The events generated almost $77,000 in facility rental income.

“Also, revenue that benefited the community in terms of what was spent in lodging, other accommodations and food and beverage,” Shuster added. “So obviously there were a number of beneficiaries of the sports tournaments, not just our own operations.”

The department also operated four soccer tournaments, in the St. Patrick’s Indoor Soccer Tournaments in February and March, and two men’s basketball tournaments in April. The six tournament weekends generated around $41,000 in net revenue.

“As you can see, we had a total of 45 sports tournaments in operation for 2011,” Shuster said. “We feel that we have done a very good job attracting sports tournaments, and we have a capacity to add additional sports tournaments and we will in fact look to recruit them.”

Before the presentation concluded, Councilman Joe Hall gave a warning to the Recreation and Parks Department along with all city departments.

“We need all the department heads to know that it is going to be a challenging budget session and even though our numbers are great … and we want that support to continue, but the reality is the property owners of Ocean City lost a lot of equity over time and the assessments show that,” he said. “They are going to be looking to us as stewards in this town to address that the best we can. So while I want you to continue your mission moving forward I think we all need to be conscience that we are going to have a challenging next couple of months.”