OCEAN CITY – Business partners of the Mid-Atlantic Youth Sportsplex (MAYS) met with Ocean City officials and tourism industry leaders this month to share and to garner support for the new operation.
In a Tourism Commission meeting last Monday, John Barrett and Jay Phillips briefed committee members on the progress of the new sports complex and its potential to generate revenue for nearby Salisbury and Ocean City.
“Basically we are looking for support to bring clubs and families to the area,” Barrett said.
The 50-acre sports complex is located off of Morris Road in Pittsville, between Ocean City and Salisbury, and contains six full-size fields for tournament and league play. The business partners are using buildings located on the converted property as a clubhouse, registration and concierge buildings and more.
“We are 90 percent done and 10 percent is cleaning up the rest of the property,” Barrett said.
Though the complex boasts several buildings and amenities, Barrett and Phillips said one of its more appealing qualities is the location, ideal for out-of-town tournament participants and their families.
“The draw, and what I think will make this a success, is we’ve got ample amount of rooms in Ocean City and Salisbury,” Barrett said. “Price points are covered because of Salisbury and Ocean City for families to come.”
Barrett, whose kids are involved with sports, said tournaments are usually in the middle of nowhere and families are often spending their night in hotels off freeways.
“There are no other things to do whereas we have the beach, we have the water, we have the Boardwalk, we have movie theaters,” he said. “We have so many things to offer them I think that the draw for our area is so much more inviting.”
Phillips told committee members that families coming to the area for the tournament could combine the event with their vacations.
“A lot of people are going to make this into a tourney-vacation,” he said. “That’s kind of the in trend for people to do now.”
Phillips explained that the hotel rooms needed to accommodate tournament participants, particularly in the area’s off-season, could be substantial.
“Our first analysis on phase 1 with six fields, we are looking somewhere around 500 to 750 rooms on a tournament play,” he said. “I think the economic impact is pretty strong.”
Phillips added that the property’s ability to add additional fields in the future could further benefit the resort.
“If we get to the point where there are 300 teams out there … I think it will be a huge off-season economic impact for Ocean City,” he said.
Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, asked Barrett and Phillips what their plans were for on-site accommodations. According to Barrett, the property contained multiple cabins and RV spaces.
“Are you planning on doing hotels there or more lodging?” she said.
Phillips replied that they had no intention of taking customers away from the hotels and explained that RV sites would not be used overnight.
“We aren’t taking any heads from beds,” he said.
Donna Abbott, Ocean City’s tourism director, said the complex will offer the area something that the resort cannot.
“We don’t have the space in Ocean City to have facilities such as this,” she said.
Mayor Rick Meehan applauded the complex and its amenities.
“Fourteen miles from Ocean City is nothing compared to when you go to the cities to go to these tournaments,” he said. “You are on beltways. You are in traffic. This is a great asset.”