Convention Center Expansion

Officials attempting to accelerate Convention Center renovation funding

Officials attempting to accelerate Convention Center renovation funding
OCEAN CITY, Md. - The convention center could be considered the heart of ocean city, hosting countless popular events and shows throughout the year, such as the boat show this weekend.

Officials are hoping a meeting in Annapolis this week will allow the convention center to host even bigger shows in the future, which could generate millions of dollars more for the area.

As of now, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan says the town has actually had to turn business opportunities away, because of the size of the current convention center.  That means money lost for the town, and lost job opportunities.

"Our existing shows, just like the boat show today, needs more space.  They want to come back and continue to do their shows here, right here in Ocean City, but we need more space so that they can have more exhibits," says District 38C Delegate Mary Beth Carozza

Luckily, help could be on the way sooner than expected.  Construction for a new 30-thousand foot exhibit hall is in the works, but the plan comes with a set back.

"The actual construction funds are delayed a year, which would delay construction for a year.  So we're going in on Tuesday with the Maryland Stadium Authority to consolidate that, so rather than being held up for a year, we can open in the spring of 2020," says Meehan.

Meehan and Carozza will meet with the House Appropriations Committee this Tuesday with millions of dollars on the line for the town, and the state itself.

"That's to the detriment both to Ocean City and the state because there's economic benefit to both the state and the city once this is open.  So why would we want to delay it if the funds are already determined to be allocated," Meehan questioned.

It's argued the extra space will not only keep shows from leaving, but will also bring in new shows the town currently has to turn away.

"We not only want to keep our existing shows and all of their participants happy and coming back to Ocean City, but we want to bring new shows in and the new shows need more space if they're going to come to Ocean City," says Carozza.

We're told expansion could mean up to 670 new jobs, with over $50 million in additional visitor revenue each year.  And that $50 million will benefit the region as well, with a few million going back to the state.

The Appropriations Committee will decide on Tuesday whether or not to accelerate the $21 million for phase three construction.

Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate