Sports Complex Task Force Meeting Set

OCEAN CITY – Members of a resort task force will reconvene in December to discuss funding and legislation options for a proposed sports complex.

On Dec. 14, the Ocean City Sports Complex Task Force will hold its second meeting at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center. City Manager Terry McGean said discussion topics will include funding and legislative options, as well as property acquisition.

“It will be open to the public for the first two items, funding/financing options and legislation options, then it will move to closed session to discuss property acquisition,” he said. “The goal will be to get recommendations from the committee regarding how the complex should be funded and what steps to take with the state legislature to accomplish that.”

In September, members of the sports complex task force convened in the first of what will be many meetings to evaluate plans for a new facility in Worcester County. As the resort takes the lead on the project, committee members have been tasked with determining the size, scope, location and funding mechanism, among other things.

“We look forward to working with everybody,” Mayor Rick Meehan told the task force in September. “We think together we can build what we think is a very important project for Ocean City and the surrounding areas.”

For years, resort council members have expressed their desires to develop a sports complex somewhere near Ocean City. And in 2019, the town commissioned the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) and its consultant, Crossroads, to conduct a market and economic analysis for a proposed sports complex in the Ocean City area. When the pandemic hit, however, MSA officials were tasked with revising the study and producing a site-specific assessment of a 95-acre site next to Stephen Decatur High School.

While the county initially took the lead on the project, the Worcester County Commissioners voted last year to terminate its contract for the purchase of the property and to end any county involvement in the development of a complex. Since that time, resort officials have agreed to take on the project and form a task force to address community concerns relating to the project’s location and scope.

With nearly 30 members at the table earlier this fall, the task force kicked off the first meeting with a presentation from MSA and Crossroads. The consulting firm’s site-specific study of the property near Stephen Decatur High School estimates the project to total more than $153 million, not including the cost to purchase the land. Officials, however, report the state could potentially fund between $111 million and $132 million.

The next meeting of the Ocean City Sports Complex Task Force will be held Dec. 14, from 9 a.m. to noon at the convention center, room 215.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.