BRADENTON -- After a few delays that stalled planning for a Formula 2 powerboat regatta on the Manatee River, Bradenton officials Wednesday approved a contract between the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority and the Powerboat Super League event organized by Integrated Strategic Marketing.
The initial contract approved by the DDA board called for a June 1 down payment of $50,000 to ISM. The funding was dependent on DDA receiving $175,000 to promote the event from the Manatee County Tourism Development Council. But the money was held up at the county level until recently, causing the deadline to expire without payment.
DDA Executive Director David Gustafson said the substance of the contract was intact, and modifying deadlines were not uncommon. ISM President Mike Fetchko agreed and reiterated that he and the Powerboat Super League remain committed to race in Bradenton.
City Clerk Carl Callahan said the city and the DDA have worked closely to reduce the financial risks "associated with an event so far into the future, such as not fronting city money and making sure fundraising efforts were reasonably sound. I think those things have been equitably resolved."
Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff said the city's limited financial involvement was an important point.
"No general taxpayer funds are being used for this event," said Roff. "This is a DDA project, and these monies have to be spent in the area where it is generated."
The city approval is just another step in the process, however. Multiple agencies will require permits.
Ward 1 Councilman Gene Gallo wanted to make sure his vote did not lock the city into something that might change during the permitting process. City Attorney Bill Lisch said any changes under those circumstances would come back before the council for further consideration.
Gustafson was pleased after Wednesday's vote, saying the process was at a standstill until the city council approved the contract.
"We couldn't go forward with the permitting process without the city's approval," he said. "I'm going to start the permitting process a second after I sign this contract. Next week, we hope to meet with the city of Palmetto to discuss their participation."
Palmetto is expected to stage the F2 competitors and host a Christian concert as part of the overall two-day event. On Bradenton's side, there will be a rock concert, Frisbee dog shows, BMX shows, water ski shows, jet ski shows, wave runner shows, fireworks and more.
Event organizers plan to shut down the northbound lanes of the Green Bridge for spectators and to host a 5K race to benefit Save the Manatees. Before pursuing the Florida Department of Transportation permit to accomplish that, the city needs to adopt a resolution of support, which Callahan said could be done at the city council's next meeting.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.