Resort Tourism Commission Favors Continuing Sports Alliance Agreement

OCEAN CITY — After some debate, resort tourism officials last week recommended 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, an 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 County joined the alliance.

During Monday’s Tourism Commission meeting, Tourism and Business Development Director Tom Perlozzo said the time was coming in the near future on a decision to renew the MAASA agreement. The contract was last renewed in 2017 and runs for five years.

There is an opt-out clause that can be enacted for any of the parties by March 1 of each year. The town’s financial commitment to the alliance is a $6,000 annual fee, which is the same commitment in the partnership supplied by Worcester and Wicomico Counties.

By most accounts, 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 might 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.

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By and large, tourism commission members were supportive of renewing the MAASA agreement, but Perlozzo said the contract might need a little tweaking.

“We need to spell out the contract a little better,” he said. “We need to talk about revenue. The way I see it, it’s five years. There are two major events associated with MAASA.”

Perlozzo said Ocean City needs to continue to expand its horizons outside of the MAASA alliance.

“We have other events we need to look at,” he said. “They aren’t going to support anything that is strictly in Ocean City, just as we aren’t going to support events in Wicomico exclusively. It’s a mutual agreement.”

Councilman and commission member John Gehrig agreed the mutual relationship could be better defined.

“I think I called it the worst deal of all time,” he said. “It’s on both sides really. We need to make it work better for all of us. The more we bring to the region, the better off we’ll all be.”

The commission voted to send a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council to renew the MAASA agreement.

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.