The Ocean City Mayor and Council was smart to not rubberstamp approval for the 2021 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the OC Air Show and the city. If agreements are not honored, they are not worth the time to discuss. If public funds are used inappropriately, scrutiny is required.
Heading into the meeting it was evident air show representatives were confident there would be no issues with the agreement on the table for the 2021 event. Otherwise, in-person attendance from at least one official from the event would have seemingly been merited.
Before moving on to the 2021 plan to grow the beachfront headquarters, which was approved ultimately, a sticking point for several council members was the execution of the 2020 air show event. The concerned council members were right to not forget about the agreement in place from last year not being honored.
Under last year’s MOU, which was crafted within two weeks of the event in August, part of the $100,000 bail out money the city provided to keep the air show on as scheduled last year was to be returned with the city getting 50% of the livestream advertising sales. The MOU was clear.
The fact is the live stream most likely did not make money in its first year. It only was offered one day of the event and it appears there were minimal ad sales, if any at all. In the promoter’s mind, the city’s late funding contribution was to save the air show from having to be canceled after state restrictions prevented ticket sales from taking place.
Whether the accord was not clear to the promoter is unclear, but the facts are certain. The city was to get some funds back from the additional $100,000 the city contributed. The late funding came on top of in-kind contributions from the city as well as a $35,000 lump sum.
The air show is important to Ocean City. It’s going to happen this summer in June, no matter the outcome of this current dispute over last year’s deal. However, Ocean City’s elected officials are right to hold the promoter to the terms of last year’s agreement. From watching the live stream, it was obvious there was little to no revenue last year. The air show paid the vendor to conduct the live stream, ad sales were unsubstantial and might have been nil. Therefore, there is nothing to give to the city as far as revenue from the live stream ads. The promoter should let the city know this is the case. If money was made, the terms of the agreement should be respected.
The reality is the city will not likely see any money back from last year’s deal. The promoter is right the city’s contribution “was about keeping the air show alive last year.” However, the terms of the deal are clear. The city was to receive something in return for the $100,000 it contributed to keep the event going. It appears at this point it will not, and the city should remember it.