Ocean City, Maryland: A Top Sports Playground by the Sea
31 Mar, 2012By: Peter Francesconi
For sports events and their participants and organizers, few areas can offer the combination of activities, topnotch facilities, and complete support—all in a seaside playground—that Ocean City, Maryland, can offer. No matter what time of year, whether an indoor or outdoor event, or whether it’s for kids or adults, OC has facilities and venues perfect for events of any size.
“Ocean City is the premier oceanfront vacation and sports event destination in the mid-Atlantic,” says Donna Abbott, communications manager for OC’s Convention & Visitors Bureau. “With our sports facilities, fields and arenas, we can host all sorts of tournaments and team sports, such as soccer, lacrosse, golf, tennis, cheerleading, marathons, running events and more. Plus, our 10 miles of beautiful, free-access white-sand beach along the Atlantic is perfect for all types of sand and water sports, including surfing and body-boarding competitions.”
OC is no stranger to huge events. Last year, the city hosted the first stop on the 2011 Summer Dew Tour, a four-day event that featured professional skateboarding, BMX and surfing—and drew 73,000-plus fans, the highest attendance in the history of the tour, according to Dew Tour officials. This summer, the Dew Tour is expected to return to Ocean City and organizers anticipate it will be broadcast live on NBC.
“The success of the Dew Tour gave Ocean City a huge boost in visibility as a big-venue sports destination,” Abbott says. “We’re looking forward to the tour coming back, and we feel we’ll be able to give organizers, athletes and fans an even better experience.”
Sand and Surf
Ocean City has also played host to the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, which brought some of the world’s best male and female professional volleyball players to the city, including 2008 Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers.
Sand soccer tournaments also are growing in popularity, and on June 9 and 10, OC will host the 17th Annual Sand Duels Beach Soccer Challenge, a 5-on-5 event for both youngsters and adults. The Sand Duels tournament is the largest in the region and attracts teams from a dozen states and from other countries.
Ocean City is known as the “White Marlin Capital of the World.” Every year, more than 1,500 of the world’s best fishermen compete in the White Marlin Open, where prizes total more than $2 million, including nearly $1 million for the biggest white marlin. This year, the 38th annual tournament will be Aug. 6-10.
With the Gulf Stream literally at OC’s doorstep, bigeye and yellowfin tuna are just a short trip from shore, as are bluefish and wahoo. Mako, mahi-mahi, blue marlin, flounder, trout and sea bass also are plentiful.
But in Ocean City, it’s not just about the beach and the ocean. The city has well-maintained and well-equipped sports facilities, fields and arenas suitable for all types of competitions and activities—of any size.
Indoor and Outdoor Events
Ocean City’s largest recreation complex is the 58-acre Northside Park, which can easily handle both indoor and outdoor sports. The outdoor facilities include three lighted softball fields with bleachers, with conveniently located concession and restroom areas. The fields can be configured for other sports, too. There also is a lighted, regulation soccer field with Bermuda turf. In addition to Northside Park, the beach and boardwalk can be utilized, and in fact, it’s an ideal location for marathons and triathlons.
Inside at Northside Park, the East Gym has a 14,800-square-foot multi-sport arena that includes two high school basketball courts. The poured rubber court with bleachers can be transformed into a full indoor soccer court. The West Gym features a 20,000-square-foot multi-sport arena, including two full basketball courts, with a sports court tiled floor and bleachers. Both gyms also are great venues for indoor volleyball.
Northside also is the venue for the popular St. Patrick’s Indoor Soccer Tournament, held in late February through mid-March. The annual event attracts more than 150 of the best indoor soccer teams from all over the mid-Atlantic region and includes divisions from under age 10 boys and girls to adult men and women.
The Ocean Bowl Skate Park, which last summer was completely renovated and upgraded prior to the Dew Tour, is the oldest skate park in the country and is perfect for skateboarding, inline skating and BMX competitions. The 17,000-square-foot concrete-based park has a pool bowl with deep and shallow ends, and a large vert ramp and mini ramp. The 13,000-square-foot open concrete street course features hit walls, hips and small bowl.
Ocean City is one of the hottest up-and-coming golf destinations on the East Coast. It’s a golfer’s paradise and, with 17 championship courses in the area, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and water views, it’s an ideal location for golf tournaments of any size.
“Our reputation as a golf destination has been growing over the years,” says Abbott, and it’s no wonder. The courses at Ocean City—designed by some of the legends of the game, including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Pete Dye, P.B. Dye and Arthur Hill—have been recognized by respected publications such as Golf Digest and Golfweek.
Of special note is Ocean City’s own premier course, Eagles Landing, one of the most scenic and challenging courses on the East Coast. Eagles Landing offers stunning views of the Sinepuxent Bay and Assateague National Seashore, and it’s the only course in Maryland certified as an Audubon Sanctuary.
Looking to organize a tennis event? The Ocean City Tennis Center, an official Tennis Welcome Center, features six premier, cushioned hard courts and three clay courts, with lights for night play. A tennis lounge, restrooms and a pro shop also are at the 2.5-acre Tennis Center.
Convention Center Expansion
The Roland E. Powell Convention Center is well-equipped to handle any size or type of indoor sporting event, including wrestling, cheerleading and gymnastics. Currently undergoing an $8.1 million expansion and renovation that should be completed in the fall, the Convention Center is still fully functional.
Upon expansion, the center will offer 214,000 square feet of flexible space, including three ballrooms, four exhibit spaces and 25 meeting rooms. It also has a computerized sound system, two adjustable and portable stages, catering and beverage services, and more, not to mention outstanding views of OC’s bayside.
Ocean City is within five hours’ drive from New York City and Richmond, and less than three hours from Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia. US Airways flies into the Salisbury/Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport. The area has 9,500 hotel rooms, more than 25,000 condo rentals and more than 200 restaurants.
“We are targeting sports events more and more,” Abbott says. “But not only can we offer an excellent sports event or tournament, we can complement it with a great vacation experience. We have dozens of activities for event participants, spouses and families to engage in.”
The CVB will arrange a site visit so event planners can check out the area and the facilities. Staff also will help locate hotel room blocks or other accommodations, set up day trips and family excursions, contact the media, help with promotional materials, and coordinate with service providers.
“We’re very accommodating,” says Abbott. “We do everything we can to make your event a success.” For more information, visit www.ococean.com.