Projected operating cost of world rowing championship: $7.7 million

skennedy@bradenton.comAugust 28, 2013 

MANATEE -- The local partnership to stage the 2017 World Rowing Championship is projecting total operating expenses of $7.7 million, county documents show.

The cost of additional capital improvements at Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park was set at $15 million, according to documents approved separately Tuesday by the Manatee and Sarasota county commissions.

A nonprofit foundation that will organize and stage the event will be responsible for the additional capital costs, according to Sarasota County spokesman Curt Preisser.

Sarasota County has already spent close to $20 million to transform a homely borrow pit into a world-class racing venue. The lake where the event would take place is still under construction.

The championship would be held in Sarasota if an in

ternational rowing federation OKs the partnership's bid next weekend at its meeting in South Korea.

Budget documents approved in principle are part of a complex legal agreement defining party obligations.

The partnership includes Manatee and Sarasota counties, the nonprofit Suncoast Aquatic and Nature Center Associates Inc. and Benderson Development Co.

The agreement limits county contributions to $2.782 million each from "bed taxes" generated by tourists and use of other legally available funds.

Reimbursement up to that amount is available for planning, hosting and staging the event, which would be managed and directed by Suncoast Aquatic and Nature Center Associates.

The two counties may contribute in-kind services at their discretion.

Benderson Development agreed to provide a "financial backstop" for the nonprofit foundation's obligations, according to Manatee County Assistant County Attorney Bill Clague.

Clague said he is still meeting with Benderson executives on terms of the agreement, but he asked commissioners to approve it in principle.

"I'm comfortable we'll get that worked out," Clague said. "Everything else is settled."

SANCA will be charged with putting on the event, as well as fundraising for capital projects, the agreement said. It will be expected to sign sponsors, find donors and apply for grants.

A section titled "Catastrophic Events" said no party is liable for failure to perform or delays caused directly by hurricane, tornado, fire, earthquake, civil commotion, or disruption of utility services.

Benderson Park is located at the intersection of Interstate 75 and University Parkway.

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

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