Bradenton Area Sports Commission funding may increase

Special to the HeraldDecember 11, 2012 

BRADENTON BEACH -- The Bradenton Area Sports Commission might end up with more funding next year to entice more sporting events to the area.

At Monday's Tourism Development Council meeting, member David Teitelbaum invited Sports Commission Executive Director Joseph Picket to propose a funding increase for the agency's bid pool. The sports commission, which has an overall budget of $200,000, currently sets aside $90,000 to pay bid fees and other expenses connected to bringing the events to the Bradenton-Anna Maria area.

Earlier this month, Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Manager Elliott Falcione announced that, thanks in part to soccer, tennis, baseball and other events recruited through the sports commission, the number of visitors to Manatee County jumped 9.2 percent from January to October 2012. The increase represented a 12 percent jump in direct expenditures and total economic impact during the same time period.

During the meeting, Pickett told commissioners that bringing the kind of events that draw athletes, their families and spectators to Manatee County venues including the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch, Pirate City, Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, Nathan Benderson Park and the IMG Academy takes resources. Of the $90,000 in the bid pool, $30,000 was used bringing three events to the region, Picket said.

Currently, the sports commission has slated events as far in the future as 2017, Pickett said. But the national competition to host these athletic events remains stiff, he said.

"You won't believe what they're doing with their facilities and what they're paying for in Texas and North Carolina," Pickett told the tourism commissioners. "If we're going to be competitive, we're going to need more money."

Teitelbaum said he would like to see the region recognized as the sports capital of Florida.

"Make a proposal for the amount of money you need to be competitive," Teitelbaum said. "Keep the momentum going."

Following the meeting, Pickett said having money funds is a way for the Manatee area to methodically grow its sports-based tourism.

"At the end of the day, it's (the bid pool increase) going to be proactive," Pickett said. "As time goes on the events are going to get bigger."

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