Resort Officials Approve Major Volleyball Tourney

OCEAN CITY- Resort officials this week approved an indoor volleyball tournament set for Mother’s Day weekend that has already led to the booking of several hundred rooms in Ocean City as part of a regional partnership to draw significant events.

During last week’s Tourism Committee meeting, Tourism Director Donna Abbott asked committee members to favorably recommend the expenditure of over $18,000 to help fund the Beachfest Volleyball indoor tournament set for Mother’s Day weekend. On Monday, the Mayor and Council voted unanimously to approve the expenditure, which will come from the sponsorship line up in the city’s tourism budget funded by the half percent on the room tax dedicated to sports marketing.

On the surface, it appears to be a sound investment from the standpoint of helping to fill hotel rooms on Mother’s Day weekend. Already, the event has booked 1,563 rooms in Ocean City with 200 teams committed and the list still growing. Council Secretary and Tourism Committee chair Mary Knight told the Mayor and Council on Monday the Beachfest Volleyball Tournament is precisely the type of wholesome special event the town should seek to fill in shoulder season weeks.

“We all know these are the kinds of events we want,” she said. “We went mid-week bookings and we want the families. Already they have booked over 1,500 rooms.”

The tournament is not entirely a new event as it was played in Ocean City in recent years. Games will be played at venues all around the resort area including Northside Park, the Convention Center and the Carousel. For the first time this year, the Beachfest Volleyball Tournament will be officially sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (MAASA), a cutting edge regional partnership that includes Ocean City, Worcester County and Wicomico County.

In 2014, Ocean City entered an agreement with Wicomico County to establish MAASA to allow the two jurisdictions to pool their collective resources to attract major sporting events and tournaments to the Lower Shore region. In 2015, Worcester County agreed to join the alliance, which focuses on linking and leveraging the combined assets of the region to attract, retain and build sports events with a focus on amateur athletics.

Just three years in, the program has been wildly successful and has been used as a model for similar alliances across the country. One of the highlights of MAASA is the annual softball world series each summer that attracts hundreds of teams and thousands of players and their family and fans to the resort area over several weekends in the summer. The hope is the Beachfest Volleyball Tournament will grow to match the success of the softball tournament and become a viable addition to the spring special events calendar.

Ocean City’s $18,000-plus contribution to the Beachfest Volleyball Tournament approved this week will come from the sponsorship line item in the tourism budget. The sponsorship line item is funded by the half a percent on the resort’s room tax dedicated to marketing and advertising for Ocean City.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.