OC’s Northside Park Eyed For More Sports Tourneys

OCEAN CITY – This week’s Recreation and Parks Commission meeting began with a proposed schedule to expand Northside Park’s ability to host baseball and softball tournaments starting in 2014 followed by discussions regarding a conflict with Springfest’s date in 2015, issues arising with the corvette parade on the Boardwalk and Springfest and Sunfest vendors requesting to close earlier.
Rob “Moose” Holland, vice president of Atlantic Coast, which works in partnership with the United States Specialty Sports Alliance (USSSA), came before the Recreation and Parks Commission on Tuesday afternoon to propose a schedule of baseball and fast pitch tournaments to be held at Northside Park in 2014.
The proposed schedule hits several weekend dates a month from April through September.
Holland came to the Recreation and Parks Commission suggesting if he were to purchase temporary fencing and pitching mounds that are capable of being installed and removed on a case-by-case basis it would expand Northside Park’s ability to host baseball and softball tournaments if the Town of Ocean City were to approve.
Recently Wicomico County partnered with Ocean City to host the USSSA Girls World Series held this past July, which filled 13,000 hotel rooms and although the event cost Wicomico County $100,000 to acquire, it created an economic impact of about $9 million overall.
Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster recognized the current demand for facilities to host sports tournaments and Ocean City is currently working to position the resort within sports marketing to attract additional events.
“If we allow him to use the fields with the temporary fencing and the mounds it would work … we could better align ourselves to use these weekends to the fullest,” Shuster said.
Upon the town’s approval of the proposed baseball and softball tournament schedule, Holland is hoping to meet with the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) to seek financial assistance in promoting the baseball and softball tournaments in Ocean City. The town allocates TAB $300,000 a year to promote new events in Ocean City.
The Recreation and Parks Commission was in consensus to have Moose present the schedule to the full Mayor and Council, which will decide if he will then be passed on to TAB to further promote the events.

Springfest Date Concern
The 2015 Town Sponsored Special Events Schedule was presented to the commission. Staff and partnering tourism organizations had reviewed the proposed schedule, and Shuster relayed concerns over Springfest weekend, May 7-10, 2015, falling on the same weekend as Mother’s Day.
Recreation and Parks Assistant Director Susan Petito said there has been some discussion of cross marketing Mother’s Day in Ocean City with Springfest.
“It is a great event to bring your mother to on Mother’s Day,” she said.
It is Ocean City’s tradition to begin Springfest on the first Thursday in May, and if the festival were to be held the week prior it would fall on April 30.
Petito pointed out if Springfest’s dates are modified it could conflict with another neighboring festival and there could be potential to lose vendors.
The commission was in consensus to table the approval of the 2015 Special Event Schedule to have staff research other potential Springfest dates and possible conflicting festivals in other areas.

Corvette Parade Concerns
Councilman Dennis Dare visited the Boardwalk the evening of the corvette parade on Oct. 4 and noticed the parade that starts at 4 p.m. was continuing past 6 p.m.
“It’s a good event but there were times people thought the parade was over because there were gaps blocks long,” Dare said. “Some of the cars went too fast on the Boardwalk. They all like to rev their engines up … and a couple of them were even chirping their tires on the Boardwalk. The behavior was borderline irresponsible considering how crowded the Boardwalk was.”
Private Events Coordinator Lisa Mitchell explained the parade is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. following scheduled corvette rallies and shows in town. She added the town has had issues with gaps forming in the parade and has addressed the problem with event organizers in the past.
Commission Chair and Councilman Joe Mitrecic pointed out the starting time of the parade hasn’t been a problem in the past because by 4 p.m. in October the Boardwalk is usually quiet but given the unusually warm weather that weekend the Boardwalk was crowded.
Mitrecic suggested additional police assistance to enforce constant parade movement instead of having vehicles stop and go for example to have their photo taken.
The commission was in consensus to suggest setting more strict conditions in the future to have corvette parade participants be more responsible.

Festival Vendors Seek
Early Closing Time
Based on Springfest and Sunfest vendor feedback, Special Events Coordinator Frank Miller requested to come before the Mayor and City Council to set an earlier closure time for the festival’s vendors.
Petito added one of the complaints from vendors is they are not able to experience Ocean City while they are in town because they are expected to man their stations from open to close.
“I agree with that whole heartily,” Mitrecic said of the request. “Once the concerts start everybody that is there gravitates towards the concert and there is very little foot traffic through the tents.”
Miller would like to recommend to the Mayor and City council both arts and crafts tent and the food tent be closed at 8 p.m. while the stage area remain open until 10 p.m. giving the mid-way section vendors the option to close early or remain open. The early closing time would be experimented during Springfest and if successful be passed onto Sunfest.
The commission was in consensus to forward the request to the full Mayor and City Council.