Manatee-Sarasota's sports industry enjoying another growth spurt

July 12, 2014 

There's fresh evidence of the region's muscular ability to boost the economy via a growing sports industry.

These are the reports just in the past week:

• Bass Pro Shops confirmed the site for a store in Sarasota. While we don't get the giant Outdoor World version the smaller Outpost version will still become an instant destination for anglers from around the region -- and improve our already strong recreational fishing reputation.

• Nathan Benderson Park will host the 2014 IBCPC Participatory Dragon Boat Festival this October, attracting 3,000 registrants with 7,000 hotel room nights booked. Some 105 teams from a dozen countries will be competing, including the Manatee-Sarasota breast cancer survivor team known as Survivors In Sync.

• The revenue figure is in: The 2014 Modern Pentathlon at the Sarasota Polo Club and Selby Aquatic Center in June raked in almost $1.9 million, according to an economic impact calculator. About 750 out-of-state and international visitors and Olympians came for this first-time event. The region will host two more pentathlon events in 2015 and the 2016 World Cup Finals, most promising.

• IMG Academy continues to grow its Bradenton sports empire, purchasing another 24 acres to add six fields to join the existing 15. This is just the latest phase in a $198 million expansion project. The global sports performance juggernaut debuted a $5.4 million fieldhouse in June, and construction has started on a residence hall and other student facilities.

This remarkable burst of activity adds to the value of the region's sports industry, diversifies tourism and spreads revenue beyond the beaches.

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