Wicomico Civic Center Alcohol Bill Continues in House of Delegat - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico Civic Center Alcohol Bill Continues in House of Delegates

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Wicomico Youth & Civic Center (Photo: WBOC News) Wicomico Youth & Civic Center (Photo: WBOC News)

ANNAPOLIS, Md.-  Last week a bill that would allow for alcohol sales at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center sailed through the Senate, and Tuesday, it sailed again through the House Economic Matters Committee.

It's been a dry campus for decades.  But Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver says changes need to be made to keep the center economically viable, and one of those changes is to the alcohol policy.

"It's a revenue enhancement that allows us to open ourselves up to so many more venues, and bring so much more to Wicomico County," said Culver.

A sentiment echoed by the bill's sponsor, Senator Jim Mathias.

"When you look at the entertainment and events that are out there today, these facilities need that revenue so they can attract the best.  Whether it's concerts, whether it's traveling Broadway plays, whether it's a special event that's coming in, this is what we need this for," said Mathias.

Wicomico County says every year, they appropriate around $600,000 to operate the facility.  They are planning a $3.4 million modernization to make it competitive, and believe the alcohol sales will help pay for that and the $600,000 annual cost.  A 2012 study showed the economic impact of the center was $14.5 million.  With alcohol, that is believed to rise to $20.3 million.  But this doesn't mean alcohol will be a full time staple.

"This isn't during Sesame Street Live, that's not what we're going for.  This is for the country concerts, the comedy concerts, that these venues ask for.  We've also spoken to several teams who would like to play there, but these teams too would like alcoholic beverages," said Culver.

After Tuesday's hearing, much of the public discussion on this part of the change is over.  If it's approved, the civic center will still have to apply for a license from the county.

"All the debate over why, where, land use, and should, that will be taken up locally," said Mathias.

It's not the end of the road for this bill yet.  It still has to be voted on by the House Economic Matters Committee.  If they approve it then it will go to the house for three readings and eventually a vote.  If it passes the house, it will then go to the governor's desk for a signature.

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