OCEAN CITY- Resort officials on Tuesday approved the one-time installation of a tent on the parking lot of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center this spring to accommodate an annual cheerleading event during the ongoing construction of the Performing Arts Center in the facility.

The Mayor and Council on Tuesday approved the installation of a large tent on the Convention Center grounds after some debate about the bidding process and from what source of money it should be paid. The tent is necessary to accommodate the Epic Brands cheerleading competition at the Convention Center on April 4-6. Epic Brands brings two major cheerleading events to the resort each year, events that have become some of the larger hosted by the facility each year in terms of heads in beds and direct and indirect economic impact for the resort.

City Engineer Terry McGean explained the installation of the tent on the Convention Center grounds was necessary to accommodate Epic’s April event. During and prior to phase one of the Convention Center expansion, the finals for the cheerleading competition were held in the west side of the ballroom, while the east side of the ballroom was used as a warm-up area for the next competitors.

However, with the ongoing construction of the Performing Arts Center, the east side ballroom will not be available as a warm-up area during the April event, necessitating the installation of the tent. Once completed, the Performing Arts Center will be used for the finals of the cheer competitions and the old ballroom space will be used as a warm-up area.

“This is a one-time issue and it’s directly related to construction,” said McGean. “We always include a contingency in the budget for unseen situations and this is one of them. We’ve never lost an event because of ongoing construction at the Convention Center.”

McGean explained the town was contracting the job with the same vendor that provides tents for Springfest and Sunfest and other Inlet lot events. He explained it was simpler to piggyback the Convention Center tent on the existing contract with the Inlet lot vendor and likely more cost effective, although other options were explored.

“We could have had the contractor do it, but we have a good working relationship with the vendor that provides tents for Sunfest and Springfest, for example. It’s just easier for us to do it this way.”

Councilmember Brett Ashley questioned whether or not the tent installation should have gone through the normal bid process. He also questioned whether the cost of the tent installation, which comes in at around $45,000, should be paid from a different source.

“Here’s the problem I have,” he said. “My vote was for the construction of the Performing Arts Center. Shouldn’t this come out of the convention center budget and not the construction budget?”

However, McGean explained the funding should appropriately come out of the construction budget.

“The direct cause of the need for the tent in the first place is the ongoing construction,” he said. “After construction, we won’t need the tent anymore.”