ANNAPOLIS – An expanded Ocean City Convention Center is one step closer to reality.
Maryland’s Board of Public Works Wednesday authorized more than $17 million worth of bonds to pay for the expansion at the Ocean City center. The move completes the funding process for the site, which should be completed by late 1997.
The board approved the bonds as part of a Master Lease Agreement and Sublease Agreement, which means that the Maryland Stadium Authority would serve as part-owner of the building.
“This is a very positive project for Maryland,” said Bruce Hoffman, the stadium authority’s executive director. “The amount of business will generate revenues that should exceed the state’s investment by the year 2000.”
The expansion will double the center’s floor space and allow Ocean City to target larger conventions and meetings. Stadium authority officials estimate the annual number of conventions will increase to 32 from the current 20, and that trade shows will increase from three to 12 a year.
“The expansion is going to make us much more competitive against other resort areas,” said Evie Pedulla, sales director at the Ocean City Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is charged with marketing the new site.
The Ocean City expansion is just one of three convention center projects at work in Maryland. The Baltimore Convention Center will have expanded to nearly triple its size when construction is completed in spring 1997. Last month, plans were made to put a 50,000-square-foot conference center and hotel complex in Bethesda.
Maryland Comptroller Louis Goldstein said he hoped that the expansion would create an ocean view from inside the center, which now faces west.
“It’s on a beautiful spot,” Goldstein said. “You ought to be able to see the sun rise in the morning with that ocean view.” Hoffman said the expansion would provide a view of the water. -30-