Sports Alliance Accord Extended

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week approved a continuation of Ocean City’s agreement with Worcester and Wicomico Counties on the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (MAASA).

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

The Mayor and Council had before it on Monday a request to renew Ocean City’s commitment in MAASA and approved the continued partnership with little discussion. The town’s financial commitment to the alliance is $6,000 annually, which was included in the fiscal year 2018 budget under the advertising and promotion line item. The $6,000 is the same financial commitment supplied by Worcester and Wicomico counties.

Just three years in, the program has been wildly successful and has been used as a model for similar alliances across the country. The concept is to pull the collective resources of the partners in the alliance to create a destination for major amateur sports tournaments and competitions. For example, Wicomico and Worcester have the athletic facilities to handle the events, while Ocean City has the hotel rooms and other amenities to accommodate the players, coaches, families and friends, for example.

One of the highlights of MAASA is the annual softball tournament each summer that attracts hundreds of teams and thousands of players to the Lower Shore region. The U.S. Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Eastern World Series last year drew more than 350 teams and 5,000 players from 14 states and Canada to the Worcester-Wicomico region over three weeks in July.

The event draws an estimated economic impact of nearly $18 million to the region and a hotel room-night demand exceeding 10,000. For a decade, Wicomico County hosted the USSSA softball world series, but growth in the size and scope of the event sparked an expansion into Worcester County and Ocean City. All of that was made possible by the MAASA partnership between the jurisdictions.

Earlier this spring, the council approved another major MAASA-related event with a Mother’s Day weekend indoor volleyball tournament played largely in 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.