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Rowing facility shows its mettle

Indicators suggest 2017 World Rowing Championships generated $18.65 million in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

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  • | 12:20 p.m. November 21, 2017
A World Rowing spokesman said more than 8,000 fans packed Nathan Benderson Park on Sunday for the final day of the world championships.   File photo.
A World Rowing spokesman said more than 8,000 fans packed Nathan Benderson Park on Sunday for the final day of the world championships. File photo.
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Spending figures have been reported for the 42,000 spectators who attended the 2017 World Rowing Championships at Nathan Benderson Park, but officials from Sarasota and Manatee counties say the event's economic impact will continue to grow over time.

Leaders of the Sarasota and Manatee county visitors’ organizations said the event has branded the area as one capable of hosting world-caliber events and Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates already is in negotiations for other potential world championship events.

“We had other sports looking and they were blown away,” said Virginia Haley, the president of Visit Sarasota. “The Monday after the event, FISA (International Rowing Federation) began talking to us about hosting other international rowing events … We now are working with USRowing because they want to build a 10-year strategy.”

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Manatee County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said his organization is working on a deal for another world-caliber championship (he wouldn't disclose the sport), but in Manatee County at an undisclosed location.

“That’s all because of how the region handled (the rowing championships),” Falcione said. “It turned the eyes of many around the globe to look at the Sarasota-Bradenton area.

Falcione said the impact of the World Rowing Championships on Manatee County is indisputable and the park will continue to be an economic driver for the Sarasota-Bradenton region. The hospitality mecca Benderson Development created in the Interstate 75-University Parkway corridor is unmatched, he said.

“Is it a great time to host? Yes,” Falcione said. “But, it’s more about the future, indirect business we’ll gain.”

Economic impact study results released Nov. 16 by Tampa-based research firm Downs & St. Germain Research and Visit Sarasota, concluded the overall economic impact to the state of Florida was $22.6 million, with a local impact of $18.65 million. Those figures are based on direct surveys of athletic teams competing in the championships, and an on-site survey of 1,000 attendees, sponsors, vendors and media of the event.

“We also talked to key managers who know all the spending figures for their teams and their delegates,” said Joseph St. Germain, president of Downs & St. Germain Research. “We also have some spending figures by FISA (International Rowing Federation).”

Visit Sarasota President Virginia Haley said the figure came close to the organization’s economic impact goal of $24.6 million — the average for a European world championship, which generally has more participation.

Haley said while the economic results are impressive, she’s most pleased with the satisfaction reported by championship athletes and visitors with 47% of attendees giving the championship an overall rating of 10 of 10 and 92% ranking it at an eight or higher.

Governments in Sarasota and Manatee counties collectively contributed $5.6 million toward hosting the rowing championships.


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