Update: Maryland Stadium Authority Releases Worcester County Spo - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Update: Maryland Stadium Authority Releases Worcester County Sports Complex Study

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WORCESTER COUNTY, Md.- The Maryland Stadium Authority has released an economic and market study to determine the feasibility of a multi-purpose sports complex built in Worcester County.

Officials say the original intent of the study was to determine the possibility of building an arena/ice rink to accommodate a minor league hockey team; however the request expanded to consider an adjacent outdoor sports field complex to accommodate the region’s growing youth tournaments market.

Phase 1 of the study focused on a number of factors, including the market demand for each component, as well as the economic impact it may have on the county and competing facilities nearby.  The study individually evaluated industry trends, demographics, hotel and visitor industry statistics and other local attractions.

The study concluded there is limited market demand for an arena/ice rink, and the market size and limited corporate base for franchise support are also viewed as drawbacks. Another concern is the direct competition with nearby venues such as the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury, as well as the Ocean City Convention Center, which already provide some amenities the proposed arena would also provide.

"What we can take away from that is that Worcester County is refining what our opportunity is as far as a sports complex and our niche market.  What we have learned is that ice hockey is not our niche," said Merry Mears, director of Worcester County Economic Development.

However, the sports field complex would contribute to the critical mass already existing in Wicomico County and Ocean City.  This kind of complex would enable the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (whose mission is to link the region’s sports facilities in order to attract and retain youth and amateur sports tournaments) to grow the region’s economic impact and establish a national reputation for large competitions, while also contributing to recreational league opportunities.

 Pending approval by the Worcester County Commissioners, the Maryland Stadium Authority, Worcester County, and Maryland Department of Commerce will proceed with Phase 2 for the outdoor sports field complex, which will estimate the potential economic and fiscal impact of the complex.

"The study has actually recommended that the market exists in that area, closer to our beaches where we have a very healthy and capable tourism economy," said Mears.

Stadium Authority Chairman Thomas Kelso added his thoughts saying, “MSA was happy to undertake this initial study to provide Worcester County with analysis that will allow them to determine how they wish to proceed,” he said.  “We look forward to working with our partners to gather additional insight on the sports field complex so they can decide where they’d like to go with this project.”

But the study from the MSA does not rule out ice hockey on the Eastern Shore completely.  Plans are still moving forward to bring a minor league hockey franchise to the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. County Executive Bob Culver has told WBOC the hope is to have a franchise in Salisbury in the next year and a half to two years.

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