The need to provide opportunities for economic revitalization for the south end of Worcester County is real, but any talk of a potential sports complex being built in the area is unproductive for the entire county.
Worcester County Commissioner Chip Bertino is right when he maintained during his town hall meeting last week, “We need to balance the development of this county to include the southern part.” More opportunities, like the new riverboat operation in Snow Hill, are indeed a must if the south end of the county is going to see true economic rejuvenation, and the government and its tourism arm will likely need to be at the forefront of these efforts.
We just don’t see a potential sports complex – a true hypothetical at this point – being built in the south end of the county as a solid for all of Worcester County. In fact, we believe it will potentially benefit Wicomico County more than it will its home county. It’s too much of a risk where families could select the neighboring county’s hotels, stores and restaurants over the more modern, albeit pricier, options in northern Worcester.
If holding large sports tournaments attracting families from the mid-Atlantic throughout the year is a primary motivator for building a sports complex, the site must be more centralized. The Newark to Berlin area is ideal because of the central location as well as its close proximity to major highways. Building a sports complex in a rural area without the proper infrastructure to support hundreds of vehicles would be foolish.
There will need to be a serious strategy behind the sports complex generally and the site specifically. Most details have not been made public. There is much uncertainty about the realities of a complex ever being built and also whether the County Commissioners will actually support it. The votes are there with the current board for a sports complex effort to move forward, but there is an election in one year and there are sure to be changes in the board makeup. County Commissioner Bud Church, a major proponent of a sports complex, has said he will not seek re-election. Whoever replaces Church could be a swing vote, dooming the effort, but the board make-up will be critical.
Worcester County is continuing at this point to conduct due diligence efforts on a potential site while congruently working on how the land would be secured financially and what partners would be involved in the eventual development and management.
We support the county’s dream of a sports complex, but this clearly remains the most rudimentary of endeavors long on unknowns and short on specifics including financial realities. It’s going to take time, but we agree with the majority of the commissioners who believe a north-end site is the right fit.