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Ocean City

Air show gets free upgrade

(Oct. 31, 2014) The Ocean City Air Show will have no reason to fly away any time soon, following a deal with the city approved this week.

The City Council voted to extend the event’s memorandum of understanding through 2018, including a continued waiver up to $100,000 of in-kind costs for support services provided to the air show.

Earlier this year, city officials established new policies that require the compilation of an itemized list of costs, both material and personnel, being incurred by private event. As of 2015, the council could decide to charge events all or part of that cost.

But it appears that longstanding attractions such as the Air Show, which began in 2008, may be spared these costs. The $950 charge for the city to place promotional banners, for instance, is now specifically exempted in the Air Show’s MOU.

“The Air Show has historically had banners placed up on the Boardwalk since 2008,” city Special Events Director Frank Miller said. “Since we do have a policy in place to have charges for those banners…[the Air Show] is basically asking for those costs to be grandfathered in.”

The new MOU also allows for the next year’s event to be automatically approved following the current year’s event, in order to meet the August deadline to file the required form with the military to request a performance team.

The Air Show will also be able to reserve two potential show weekends with the town, although it will only use one. The council did stress, however, that the show does not have exclusive rights to either date.

“The Air Show wants to be able to show a primary date when they request those jet teams … but they understand we’re not holding those dates,” Miller said.

“You have a much better shot, when they’re laying out their schedules, if you have alternate dates,” said Steve Webster, who works with Ocean City Air Show promoter B. Lilley Productions.

The show’s dates for 2015 are already set for June 13 and 14, when the Navy Blue Angels will be featured.

The renewed MOU also provides the Air Show with additional flexibility on the amount of beach space used. The show center, where the narrator’s booth and drop zone are located, is typically staged around 16th Street on the Boardwalk. The area features paid, VIP seating and concessions.

In addition to in-kind services, such as placing banners, hauling trash, and providing police officers, the city also pledges an additional $35,000 in outside spending on items such as fuel and equipment rental on the Air Show’s behalf.

The question was also raised whether the Air Show could go back to a mid-week date to promote weekday tourism, as had been done the first year of the show in 2008. Atlantic City’s air show has been highly successful on a Wednesday, it was noted.

“A good portion of the reasoning is that it is really tough to get a jet show to come on a weekend,” Miller said, noting that Atlantic City’s proximity to major bases helps with its scheduling.

“It’s tough for a promoter to realize any net profit,” Miller said. “The first year the event was produced here, there wasn’t any profit opportunity. The chances of continuing after 2008 as a weekday show were slim to none.”

Further, the Air Show has traditionally been held in June – when the city needs the economic boost, but also when most families are not vacationing.

“We’re a drive-to destination,” said Council President Lloyd Martin. “If the kids are still in school that week, they’re not going to come to the show.”

 

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