Manatee watersports businesses project rowing boom

Watersports businesses project rowing boom

jbartolone@bradenton.comSeptember 4, 2013 

MANATEE -- Jim Eliason is hoping all the buzz about rowing in Bradenton will rub off on his business.

Eliason, who has owned Discount Tackle Outlet, 3113 First St., since 1998, said he thinks the news of the 2017 World Rowing Championship coming to Manatee-Sarasota could drive more people toward outdoor recreational sports.

"It does bring attention to our area, and paddlesports in general," Elias said. "Paddlesports have been extremely popular the past three to five years."

Though Discount Tackle focuses more on fishing and kayaking and doesn't cater to the Olympic-style competitive rowing coming to Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Eliason said the championships and new rowing facility will still be good for business.

"Just having people geared toward outdoor, motor activities like that, I think there will be some association," Eliason said.

Frank Miller, owner of Siesta Key-based Adventure Kayak Outfitters Tours & Rentals, isn't as optimistic.

"We don't get a big call for people asking for $15,000 sculling equipment," he said. "I don't think anybody's trying sculling."

Miller said he's been opposed to the project and would have rather seen the millions in public and private funds spent on some

thing else.

"I can't stand the fact that the county put all those millions of dollars into that rowing facility for the top 1 percent of kids in the country (who row)," Miller said. "How many underprivileged kids are out there, really?"

The venue under construction at Interstate 75 and University Parkway at the Manatee-Sarasota border will be the country's only Class A, tournament-sanctioned rowing course. The International Federation of Rowing Associations, meeting in Chungju, South Korea, selected Sarasota-Bradenton last weekend as host of the 2017 championships.

Officials also have plans to stage to a variety of community-oriented sports at Benderson Park, including kayaking, canoeing and triathlons. And they've touted a total economic impact of $25 million to $100 million from the rowing championship.

Count Mark Stukey as a believer.

The owner of Ray's Canoe Hideaway, 1289 Hagle Park Road in Bradenton, said all the talk about rowing might inspire people to take up a paddle and come to his business for a guided tour of the Upper Manatee River.

"It's cheap entertainment," Stukey said. "It doesn't cost you any gasoline, it doesn't cost you any oil. It's a healthy sport. It's going to get you in shape."

For Eliason, rowing is another amenity to add to the list of many outdoor offerings in the area.

"We have such a wonderful area for kayaking in Manatee County with all the shallow water and all the other parks and whatnot geared toward that," Eliason said.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service