Bids Rejected for Sports & Civic Center Facelift

Bids Rejected for Sports & Civic Center Facelift

An architectural rendering depicts the new overhang that was just added to the Sports & Civic Center's entrance as part of a major renovation. (Courtesy of City of Ocean City)


Ocean City will have to wait longer to undertake a multimillion-dollar renovation of the Sports & Civic Center after bids for the project came in much higher than the estimate and were rejected.

Four competitive bids from companies seeking the construction contract ranged from about $4 million to $4.6 million, well over the $2.5 million estimate by the city engineer. City Council voted Thursday to reject the bids.

City officials intend to seek new bids, but the process could be lengthy. For instance, it took three months from the time the city advertised for the first set of bids and opened them in late November.

“The length of the public bidding process can vary, but it’s never quick,” city spokesman Doug Bergen said in an email Friday.

In the meantime, the city will consider ways to speed up the project and reduce the cost, including changing the bid specifications. It remains unclear exactly when the project will get underway.

“Because the facility gets so much usage, one spec called for a pretty tight timeframe for completing the job. Relaxing time parameters, for instance, is one way costs could be reduced without sacrificing amenities,” Bergen explained. “But the process of revising the specs is just beginning. Timeframes will stem from that.”

The Sports & Civic Center overlooks the Carey Field high school track and stadium complex.

Hoping to turn the Sports & Civic Center into a bigger, more functional facility, the city is planning to renovate and expand the aging building. It is one of the big-ticket items in the city’s capital plan, a blueprint for road, drainage and dredging projects as well as other infrastructure improvements.

In all, the capital plan calls for a total of nearly $33.3 million in spending in 2019. City Council approved a $6.5 million bond ordinance in October to finance a beach replenishment project and the Sports & Civic Center’s facelift.

New locker rooms, bathrooms and a concession area are planned for the building, located at Sixth Street and the Boardwalk. An overhang will be added to the entryway to protect people from the rain and also to improve the building’s drab appearance.

The building plays an important role in the city’s sports scene and as the venue for special events, including festivities for the family-friendly First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve.

However, Mayor Jay Gillian noted during a Council meeting in March that the city hasn’t done any upgrades to the facility “for a lot of years.”

He envisions the Sports & Civic Center becoming a money-maker. Gillian said by expanding and improving the facility, it will make it more attractive to the sports teams that use the building during their workouts at the adjacent Carey Stadium high school athletic complex.

The sports complex is already rented by some college athletic programs for their workouts. Villanova University’s football team practices at the stadium each year. The mayor believes the renovation project will lead to college teams using the building and Carey Stadium even more, which would produce additional rental revenue for the city.

The Villanova University football team has used Carey Stadium for practices.