The Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has confirmed that they will be hosting H20i's 2018 Volkswagen and Audi car show.The event, typically held in and around Ocean City, Maryland, has historically been a thorn in law enforcement's side. Last year's event in Ocean City was canceled over venue and logistical concerns. That didn't stop many of the Audi and Volkswagen owners from making their trek to the Eastern Shore to show off their heavily modified cars. The lawlessness that stemmed from the unsanctioned H2Oi event last year forced Ocean City to assemble a task force to address similar events moving forward. Last week, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed SB872 into law. The bill will allow Ocean City to designate roadways as "Special Event Zones" and raise traffic fines accordingly. Under the new law, the expectation of 1,000+ spectators for an event is enough to justify creating a Special Event Zone. Once established, Ocean City will be allowed to hike traffic fines (similar to how fines are raised in construction or school zones). In these new Special Event Zones, speeding tickets will be punishable by up to a $1,000 fine.
The move is clearly designed to target out-of-control car events like H2Oi. Instead of being hamstrung by the limitations of the laws, these Special Event Zones would allow law enforcement to crack down on the bad actors. H2Oi has refused to comment on the move to Atlantic City or whether the new special event zone law impacted their decision. Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan applauded the organization's decision to change venues.
“It is my understanding that a contract has been signed with Showboat in Atlantic City to move the official event to that location,” he said. “The move would make sense because the Showboat can offer a large venue that we do not have in Ocean City to accommodate the growing number of participants who attend this event. It could also be a more centrally located venue considering the long distances some participants travel to get to Ocean City.”It isn't often that you will see township officials applauding other shore communities poaching event contracts, which illustrates just how much of a headache H2Oi has caused Ocean City officials in recent years. If H2Oi does follow through with the move to Atlantic City, it is unclear how city officials will utilize the powers given to them by SB872. When this legislation was moving through the state legislature, township officials said it was necessary to bring these sorts of rowdy events under control. In the absence of drag racers and burnouts to prosecute, will the township be able to resist the lure of more traffic citation revenue? The State of Maryland just gave Ocean City the power to hike traffic fines anytime there are 1,000 people at an event. Does anyone seriously think that the township won't use that power now that H2Oi is moving elsewhere? Pay close attention to how Ocean City uses these new powers this summer. Ocean City is expensive enough as it is without the prospect of a $1,000 fine hanging over people's heads.
What do you think? Should Ocean City use these new powers now that H2Oi is leaving? Tell us in the comment section below!