Victory near in Manatee-Sarasota race for international rowing event

August 10, 2013 

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The 2017 World Rowing Championships will be held in early fall at Nathan Benderson Park, international rowing officials announced Wednesday. GRANT JEFFERIES/Herald file photo

GRANT JEFFERIES — gjefferies@bradenton.com Buy Photo

Victory is close at hand for the public-private partnership bidding to host the 2017 World Rowing Championship at Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park. With its recent recommendation of Bradenton-Sarasota as the site, a 14-member council of the International Federation of Rowing Associations put the region in the driver's seat.

All that remains is the final stamp of approval from the FISA Congress in South Korea next month, an all but certain outcome.

This will put the region on the global map as a destination and an international player in the big-time sport of competitive rowing. Just the economic boost from this one event will be well worth Manatee County's pledge of up to $2.8 million to secure the bid.

Estimates put the economic impact at almost $13 million in direct spending by participants and spectators with a total regional impact more than $24.6 million.

To assuage taxpayers, Manatee's contribution comes from the tourist development tax collected from visitors staying at hotels, not property taxes.

Tourist tax revenue must be spent on promoting tourism by state law and cannot be shifted to other uses.

The superb public-private partnership worked long and hard, and a team will travel to South Korea to present the case for the region after July's meeting in Switzerland with the council.

Kudos to Manatee and Sarasota county governments, Benderson Development Co., the nonprofit Suncoast Nature Aquatic Center Association, tourism officials from both counties and the many volunteers associated with this effort.

Nathan Benderson Park has already proven to be a major force in rowing by hosting a variety of collegiate and national regattas. Manatee County benefits from the influx of visitors, too, and that is bound to continue.

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