Wicomico Center Seeks Millions

The Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury, Md., is a little short on cash for the upgrades needed for the 6,892-capacity venue – more than $5 million short.

A new arena roof, stages, bleachers, flooring and other repairs and improvements total nearly $8 million, according to the Daily Times. After lobbying state, county and city officials during the past year, Gary Mackes, the director for the Wicomico department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism, convinced the state to approve $1 million in this year’s fiscal budget with the agreement that the county will match their contribution.

The county’s $1 million will come from WYCC-dedicated funds, which currently bring in about $265,000 annually that Mackes estimates can be leveraged to borrow about $2.5 million. The annual funds from the facility breaks down to $160,000 from a portion of the county’s hotel room tax, $90,000 from an admission ticket surcharge and $15,000 from a general facility use fee.

The venue’s supporters think the allocations for the overhaul are a fair deal for the regional economy because the facility brings in $3.5 million annually to businesses. Mackes has asked county and city officials to try to get another $1.5 million from the state for next year.

But odds of squeezing out more money for the repair bill aren’t good because of the state’s $1.5 billion structural deficit and county executive Rick Pollitt hasn’t included additional funds in this year’s capital budget, according to the Daily Times.

Without bringing in the needed dough, pennies are going to have to be pinched and although roofing consultants estimated five years ago that 2007 was the year a new roof over the Normandy Arena was due, Mackes isn’t convinced it’s the best move for the venue. He hopes the arena can get by for another five or six years with the current roof.

"People aren’t going to appreciate or enjoy a new roof. It’s not going to help the selectability or modernization if we have to put in a new roof," Mackes told the Daily Times. "People aren’t going to really appreciate a roof when other things need to be done."

Roofing consultants will give their opinion after they review their previous assessment at the end of August.