While there is much excitement for next month’s first-ever Oceans Calling music festival, the highlight of Ocean City’s annual special events calendar continues to be the White Marlin Open.
There are several significant special events that annually pack an economic punch for the Ocean City area, but there’s no mistaking the most impactful of them all. It’s clearly the White Marlin Open and has been for the last 25 years.
Ocean City features many entrepreneurial families who started their businesses with a humble concept and a leap of faith. Though it’s not easy operating businesses in a beach resort area, there are many household names who have managed much success with common ingredients, namely hard work, dedication and ingenuity.
The Motsko family serves as an example. Though the White Marlin Open is a week-long event, it’s a year-round effort to organize. As the tournament said this week in an online post, planning for the next tournament begins as soon as the awards ceremony concludes after the last day of fishing.
The tournament began in 1974 with just 57 boats with a purse of $20,000. This year there are 408 boats and an $8.6 million purse. The tournament payout has skyrocketed in recent years from $2.2 million in 2009.
The tournament’s impact is difficult to quantify, but all agree it marks the peak of the summer season each year. The energy of the White Marlin Open is unmistakable. While its headquartered at the Harbour Island marina, the vitality is felt regionally and especially around the marinas in West Ocean City where it’s akin to Super Bowl week for host destinations for the professional football championship.
The last economic impact report on the tournament was conducted by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development in 2009. The study calculated an estimated $16 million in local expenditures, $4.9 million in salaries and 130 jobs. The total impact on state and local tax revenues was reported as $746,000 according to the study. This evaluation was conducted the year the tournament had about 300 boats registered. When taking into account this year’s boat tally of more than 400, inflation and increased expenses associated with all goods, it’s a safe assumption the $16 million economic impact figure should be tripled
Indeed, the White Marlin Open continues to be the king special event because of its economic impact as well as the positive publicity. It’s especially inspiring to know the event remains family operated and has been since day one.