Performing Arts Center Opening Event Set For Holiday Weekend

Performing Arts Center Opening Event Set For Holiday Weekend

OCEAN CITY –The new Performing Arts Center at the convention center is right on schedule with a kickoff performance in the works to celebrate the auditorium’s grand opening.
At Monday evening’s Mayor and City Council meeting, Tourism Commission Chair Councilwoman Mary Knight reported during a Tourism Commission meeting earlier in the month Roland E. Powell Convention Center Director Larry Noccolino announced Phase II of the convention center expansion, which is the construction of a Performing Arts Center (PAC), will be completed in November of 2014.
Knight furthered, Noccolino is in the process of working with a current promoter in Ocean City to set up a kickoff performance in the new PAC on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014.
“That will be extremely exciting because that will be Thanksgiving weekend, folks are always in town, and it will be something new, and an extremely exciting event to kick of the PAC,” Knight said.
The state-of-the-art, 1,200-seat, two-tiered performing arts center inside the convention center is on pace to meet the aggressive target completion date set for November 2014, and Noccolino is already planning for future shows and events for the new facility with an aggressive booking plan running concurrently with the construction schedule.
Noccolino could not give specifics on the kickoff event as of Wednesday. However, he was able to speak of another major signature groundbreaking event for early 2015. He said plans are in the works to bring the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Julien Benichou to the new PAC with the first performance to be held on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, which would also fall on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, one of the highlights of the slowest month in Ocean City from a business perspective.
“Our priorities are offering dates to our existing clients first, show promoters second and city-sponsored events third,” he said.
While Noccolino would not release details on other events in the works, he said many of the convention center’s existing clients have inquired and asked for date holds in 2015 to utilize the new auditorium in conjunction with their annual conventions and events.
To name a few, Noccolino pointed to Epic Brand Cheerleaders, Star Power dance group, Trinity Motivation, Market America and the Maryland State Firefighters Convention. Additionally, current special events that come to Ocean City, such as Cruisin’ and OC Bikefest, have interest in the PAC to hold events, such as concerts.
By the time the PAC opens next November, Noccolino plans on having the center booked through 2017. Events will be spread out through the year, Noccolino said, concentrating on the timeframe between Labor Day and Memorial Day.
Noccolino said he envisions around three to four major city-sponsored events each year in the performing arts center with as many as 18-25 promoter-sponsored events.
As of today, the construction of the PAC has been underway for exactly two months. Phase II began on Oct. 20 with demolition work in the old sections of Hall C on the ground floor of the Convention Center and a demising wall going up on the second floor in what used to be part of Halls A and B. 
“We are on schedule and on time, which is very important to us here because while we are booking we need to know that, and being all the construction is inside we don’t anticipate weather being an issue,” Noccolino said.
The floor-to-ceiling demising wall is now complete, separating the relatively new bay-front ballroom on the second floor from the construction work going on in the performing arts center. The intent is to allow crews to continually work on the massive project without any disruption to the regular daily uses of the convention center and the already booked guests.
“What they are doing is all the high work right now on the second floor, which is a bunch of acoustical, mechanical and electrical work. Once all that is done on the second floor then they will start taking the floor out from the old ballrooms two and three. They are pretty much working from the ceiling down,” Noccolino said.
The first phase of the major convention center expansion, including the bay-front ballroom and its floor-to-ceiling windows, was completed last year. Phase II, including the 1,200-seat performing arts center complete with 800 fixed seats in two tiers and 400 more movable orchestra seats, dressing rooms, concession areas and a box office, will cost $14 million and is being funded in part by the state through the Maryland Stadium Authority at $5.7 million. The town of Ocean City is funding the remaining $8.3 million, which is covered by a 2013 bond issue.