(Jan. 30, 2015) Don’t be mad, Ocean City – it’s not you, it’s us.
The world’s most extreme-sports-centric “Dear John” call apparently went out to the resort over this past weekend, as the Dew Tour announced it will not be returning to Ocean City for a fifth event in 2015.
Mayor Rick Meehan broke the news at Tuesday’s City Council session, stating that the Dew Tour’s management “informed me that they had permission to call and let me know that the Dew Tour is changing their format and will not be returning to Ocean City in 2015.”
Since its first iteration in 2011, the Dew Tour, featuring skateboarding, surfing, and BMX competitions, plus a major concert, had become a staple of Ocean City’s summer event lineup.
But the event has, historically, never stayed in a certain place for more than a few years at a stretch. Despite fears that Ocean City was in competition with other nearby beaches for the venue, that was not the case.
“It’s not that they’re moving to another East Coast beach location,” Meehan said. “This is not unusual for the Dew Tour. They change their locations often.”
The Dew Tour is organized by Alli Sports, under a contract with NBC for extreme-sports television coverage. Each year’s lineup includes three or four different locations, with different sets of events for beach, mountain, and urban venues.
“We’ll be getting away from the ‘beach-mountain-city’ theme,” said Dew Tour General Manager Chris Stiepock. “We’re moving away from that whole nomenclature and terminology.”
Although the fundamental events of the 2015 tour will not change, a venue in the region is not in the prospective lineup.
“It’s not going to be terribly different from what people saw in Ocean City,” Stiepock said. “But we haven’t been looking at any East Coast beach locations.”
For all intents and purposes, Ocean City was one of the Dew Tour’s most successful runs. Gate attendance shot up from an already respectable 73,000 in 2011, to 105,000 last year.
Although some prime seating at the competitions and concert was paid, much of the event was free. The tour’s primary economic incentive comes through sponsorships and advertising, and is dependent on where those companies are willing to pay Alli and NBC for exposure.
“The profit, or lack thereof, isn’t really factored in,” Stiepock said. “It’s more a function of moving the tour to expose the brand to a different market. We had a great run in Ocean City.”
Alli also provided business to a number of local sub-contractors who assisted with the event. Although none had been told of the event’s future before Meehan’s announcement, the decision was not a total surprise.
“They hadn’t said anything to me or any of the outside contractors I know,” said Brad Hoffman of Spark Productions, which did the tour’s local marketing and media design.
“Sometimes events run their course, sometimes there are internal reasons why they go away,” Hoffman said. “It was definitely an honor to work with the folks at Alli while they were here.”
“I hadn’t been told one way or the other, but it’s not entirely unexpected,” said Bob Rothermel of TEAM Productions, which did the set-up of the Dew Tour arena. “Their track record has been a few years in each place, and move on.”
Of all the city’s premier events, the Dew Tour likely had the least stringent deal of all. The memorandum of understanding between the Town of Ocean City and Alli simply spelled out when and where the Dew Tour could set up, how much insurance it needed to carry, and what level of assistance the city would provide.
No money changed hands, with Alli receiving a considerable amount of in-kind services in traffic and maintenance from the Department of Public Works and Ocean City Police Department. In return, the town’s name was prominently attached to the event.
“All the deals we have with local government are pretty similar,” Stiepock said. “That didn’t really factor in here … had we come back [to OC], the deal would’ve been pretty much the same. It really is as simple as moving our market.”
In reality, the city is unlikely to lose any tangible visitorship by not having the event. In fact, the last weekend of June 2014, when last year’s Dew Tour was held, actually saw a four percent reduction in Demoflush estimates versus the same weekend in 2013, when the Dew Tour was held a week earlier.
What the town will lose is the intangible “hip” factor of the event, which generated a great deal of enthusiasm among the younger set.
“A lot of people thought the event was culturally important to the town to look young and cool,” Hoffman said. “I hope, in the future, that we can keep some of the components they brought to town with other events that further that image.”