County Agrees To Restructured Stadium Study

SNOW HILL – The feasibility study to determine the viability of an indoor sports arena in Worcester County will be broken into two parts at the request of state officials.

On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners gave their approval to a request from the Maryland Stadium Authority to restructure the phase one study of the sports arena proposed for northern Worcester County.

“It essentially reduces the state percentage per part that they feel would be more in line with other studies that have been done by the stadium authority,” said Bill Badger, Worcester County’s economic development director.

In May, following a presentation from a Texas company interested in bringing a minor league hockey team to the area, county officials asked the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) to look at the feasibility of a potential indoor sports arena and the effect it would have on existing facilities, such as Ocean City’s convention center. The feasibility study, which is expected to cost $75,000, would be funded with $30,000 from the Maryland Stadium Authority, $25,000 from Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development, $15,000 from Worcester County and $5,000 from Hat Trick Consultants, the Texas company that presented the initial proposal.

As proposed, the state would be funding more than three quarters of the study cost. When MSA provided a similar study in Ocean City, the state only funded 50 percent of the cost.

“The Maryland Stadium Authority is concerned that the percentage of state dollars is higher than they’d like to see,” Badger said this week.

MSA suggested breaking the study into two parts. The first phase, a market study, would cost $47,600. The second phase, an economic study, would cost $27,400.

“The county’s portion, which is approximately $15,000, has not changed,” Badger said.

The commissioners agreed with the proposal and Badger said the MSA was expected to discuss the study at an Aug. 4 meeting.

Tuesday’s discussion comes six months after Hat Trick Consulting presented plans for a 6,200-seat arena outside Ocean City. Company officials said they would like to see a minor league hockey team as the facility’s anchor. A second sport such as lacrosse or basketball, as well as a number of concerts, would be used to make the arena profitable.