Revised Center Agreement Approved

OCEAN CITY — With the next expansion of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center set to go out to bid soon, resort officials this week approved a modified construction and operations agreement with the Maryland Stadium Authority for the facility.

The Town of Ocean City partners with the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) on the convention center and a bill passed by the state legislature authorizes the MSA to issue up to $24.5 million in bonds to help pay for the third phase of the expansion.

The total cost of the project is $34 million, of which the state is requested to fund 60 percent, or $20.4 million. The town’s share would be 40 percent, or roughly $13.6 million, which would be funded by the one cent added to the food tax in Ocean City.

The expansion will add 30,000 square-feet of exhibit space on the north side of the facility. The expanded space could be used alone for a single event, or opened up with the other adjacent exhibit halls to create a larger space.

The bill passed last spring changed the funding formula for the convention center expansion from a 50-50 split between the state and the city to a 60% share for the state and a 40% share for the city. The legislation also required changes to the construction and operations agreement between Ocean City and the MSA, changes which were approved by the Mayor and Council on Tuesday. One of the more significant changes is an alteration of the formula by which each party contributes to the convention center’s capital reserve fund. In the past, each partner contributed $50,000 annually to the capital reserve fund to cover the cost of unanticipated repairs and other expenses. That formula has now been changed to $100,000 annually for each party.

City Engineer Terry McGean said the changes reflect the increased size of the convention center after the expansion, along with the aging existing facility, which was first built in the 1970s.

“The reason for the increase is the building will be much larger after the expansion,” he said. “Also, the building is getting older and things like the roof or the escalators or the mechanical systems might need replacing in the future. The MSA wanted to make sure we had that funds to cover that.”

The council unanimously approved the revised agreement with the MSA.

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.