The Ocean City Mayor and Council is right to take a deeper dive into the Maryland Stadium Authority’s recent feasibility update for a local sports complex consisting of eight to 10 outdoor fields and a 125,000-square-foot indoor facility.
The city paid $50,000 for the update and conceptual design cost estimate, and it’s a logical next step to review it with the MSA and the consultant who conducted the evaluation. We particularly support the idea of having the presentation of the study in an informal setting where all the area’s elected officials and citizens can gather to take it all in if interested.
What should not be expected at this gathering in the future is for many Worcester County Commissioners to attend because the current majority made it clear after the November election the county is not to have anything to do with construction of a sports complex moving forward. If a sports complex project advances, it will require a partnership between the state and Ocean City and/or a private entity leading the way.
There is a tremendous amount of data in the report. Some of it seems a bit outlandish, such as the complex creating between 830 and 980 new jobs, but the economic development impact on room nights and tax revenue should be heavily considered. It’s estimated gross tax revenues from a developed sports complex will generate between $8.5 million to $10.1 million in a year. The study estimates 54 to 64 total events would be held throughout a typical year at the sports complex.
These sorts of studies totaling 72 pages are difficult to take at face value. It seems unrealistic as many as 60 tournaments will be held at a sports complex in this area, but the consultant must have case studies to confirm the claim and the total attendance of 200,000 people in a year. With so much data and information throughout the document, an in-person review of the consultant’s evaluation is a worthwhile exercise.
One of the main goals of the meeting should be to provide some clarity to a possible funding split between the local and state contributions. It has been said publicly the state would fund a great majority of the $167 million project. Ocean City Councilman Frank Knight maintained this week the local contribution could be around $36 million with the state funding the rest of the project.
There are many questions to be answered including the process of how it moves forward and where a proposed sports complex would even be located. As we have maintained in the past, we believe there are far more negatives than positives with the previously identified site west of the high and middle schools. Moving beyond that property would be a good first step.