Bradenton DDA takes first step to make powerboat regatta official

myoung@bradenton.comApril 25, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Planning for a Formula 2 powerboat regatta next February on the Manatee River is set to race forward with a conditional approval of a memorandum of understanding.

The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority held a special meeting Friday and voted unanimously to move forward, after negotiating through most financial issues that had prevented an agreement earlier in the week.

There is still much to do with the DDA-approved memorandum being just the first of many steps. The city council will review the contract at its May 14 meeting, and there is still a permitting process through multiple agencies. A separate contract also must be secured with Manatee County.

DDA Executive Director David Gustafson said event organizers are on board with the direction the DDA wants the contract to go, and both sides are moving forward in confidence that the February event will occur.

Gustafson said Integrated Strategic Marketing, which is handling the negotiations for the Powerboat Super League event, has verbally agreed to the changes.

Board members first noted that DDA's potential financial loss if the event does not take place is $11,700, which includes permit application fees.

Gustafson said the DDA would get that money back and more, once the food vendor situation is resolved in planning for an estimated 75,000 people.

DDA Treasurer Kerry Ward said he is more concerned with up-front money considering the DDA's limited budget. Gustafson said nothing is under contract yet, but he has received several verbal commitments from area businesses.

In further review of the contract, board member Mike Carter observed that the DDA was going to receive a June 1 bill from ISM for $50,000 in startup money.

He wanted to know how the board would come up with that amount, if it is already concerned about $11,700 in expenses. Gustafson the $50,000 would be reimbursed from the $175,000 the Manatee County Tourism Development Council pledged to the event.

Gustafson said it could be 30 to 45 days after the county's May 6 vote before the DDA receives the money, which puts the time line beyond the June 1 commitment.

There was a brief discussion about shifting money from within the DDA's budget, but Ward said those funds were committed to various projects and if something went wrong to where the DDA could not get that money back, "We'll be in real trouble."

Karen Kyser, DDA program administrator, said there is $300,000 in a nonrelated tax increment fund account left over from the Riverwalk project being finished under budget.

Kyser explained the funds are not dedicated toward any other DDA-related project. Since the powerboat regatta is being considered as a Riverwalk event, the board was in favor in looking at the legalities of how the money can be used.

Ward said he would have that information before a May 13 DDA workshop.

In the meantime, Carter moved to approve the contract with two stipulations. One is to require ISM to provide a detailed financial disbursement protocol so the DDA can see where the money goes and that the contract is only valid depending on available funding. The motion unanimously passed.

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.

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