International rowing officials ask questions about area's bid for championship

skennedy@bradenton.comJuly 31, 2013 

MANATEE -- Officials overseeing site selection for the 2017 World Rowing Championship have asked a team representing Manatee and Sarasota counties to answer 11 questions about its bid to stage the event.

That was what Benderson Development Co. exec Paul Blackketter told the Manatee County Commission Tuesday in an update of the region's effort to win the right to stage the event at Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park.

Blackketter said the questions were part of a "clarification letter" that must be returned by noon today via e-mail.

It stemmed from a meeting earlier this month in Switzerland, where local officials lobbied the 14-member council of the International Federation of Rowing As

sociations, which oversees the championship event, to choose Sarasota-Bradenton over a competing bid from Bulgaria.

Questions federation officials posed this week involved various options about hosting the event, such as whether the date should be set in late September or early October, and what sort of weather might occur at that time of year, Blackketter said.

They also wondered whether international doctors tending to the rowers could legally practice in Manatee County, said Blackketter, who is president of the nonprofit organization supporting the bid for the event.

The council representing the international rowing federation could issue its recommendation of a site any time from Friday into the next week, Blackketter said.

Representatives of 130 countries affiliated with the federation will officially award the 2017 championship when they gather Sept. 2 in Chungju, South Korea.

Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle said the same delegation that made its pitch earlier this month in Switzerland, where the international federation is headquartered, is expected to represent Manatee County in South Korea as well.

Local delegation members will depart Aug. 28 and return Sept. 3, Bustle said.

Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker, a delegate, recalled one important question asked in Switzerland: "What happens if the cost of the event exceeds what the government is prepared to pay?"

It was answered by Randy Benderson, president of Benderson Development, which is a partner with Manatee and Sarasota counties in the campaign to host the championship.

"'I will cover it,'" Benderson replied, according to Hunzeker.

In other action Tuesday, commissioners OK'd transferring $100,000 from a housing rehabilitation program to construction of a food bank to be operated by Turning Points, affiliated with Bradenton's Galvano One Stop Center.

The center offers food, counseling, health care, dental care and other help to the poor and the homeless.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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