Most of the country, nay the world, has heard of the Dew Tour and while we in Maryland are thrilled to consistently set and break (our own) attendance records over the past three years in Ocean City- there is another event just west of the beach that has caused a major stir over the last seven years.
Every mid July for the past seven years young girls from all over the US (and parts of Canada) have headed to Salisbury for the USSSA Softball World Series. And as the years past and the staff in Wicomico/Salisbury proved themselves year after year, they were rewarded with more age brackets- now making the tournament the USSSA Eastern World series. Think about this statistic- over the course of seven years, they went from 56 teams to 400+( after 400, one starts to go cross-eyed!)- that is a growth of over 600%! For the event to expand like this, every event planner knows you need two major things: fields and beds. Fields, no problem for Wicomico; hotels…slight problem. And that is when and where the county jurisdictional boundaries began to crumble (this is a good thing). Enter Ocean City.
Ocean City may be a family friendly beach town, but make no mistake- it’s not all fun and games there! The convention center is usually packed with glitter and glitz cheerleaders jumping all over the place. The beaches are packed with kids playing soccer and lacrosse in highly competitive tournaments; the waters to the east of Ocean City are lined with fishing vessels for major tournaments such as the White Marlin Open. But even with the hub of activity in OC, there are still a plethora of hotel rooms for softball families to catch a wink before the next big game. Say hello to MAASA.
On Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore last Friday, Wicomico and Ocean City announced their partnership to form a regional sports marketing initiative dubbed the Mid- Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (MASSA). The new website and initiative were revealed an hour before the start of softball’s professional league- National Pro Fastpitch- between USSSA FL Pride v PA Rebellion. It was a fitting tribute to the sport that has been the catalyst for the two jurisdictions to work together. Many dignitaries were on hand to give a few words, including Wicomico County Executive Rick Politt: “By combining each jurisdiction’s assets we are able to offer event organizers top-notch facilities in the Roland E. Powell Convention Center and Wicomico Youth & Civic Center as well as a multitude of outdoor facilities”. Politt went on to say “Our region’s hotels, restaurants, and attractions – like the beach, boardwalk, zoo and Perdue Stadium to name just a few – offer participants plenty to do off the field”. Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan was also in attendance and stated that his community “could not be more excited to enter into this new partnership with Wicomico County. Together, we are looking forward to bringing in additional sporting events to the area, and as a result, building a national reputation through MAASA and growing the economic impact to our region”.
The mission of MAASA is simple: link and leverage the combined assets of Ocean City and Wicomico County, Maryland to attract, retain and build sports marketing events, with a focus on amateur athletics, to establish a national reputation and grow the region’s economic impact. So watch out world, because Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore is locked, stocked and ready to roll out their plan of sports-tourism domination!