BRADENTON -- Manatee County commissioners have approved providing $175,000 in tourism taxes for a proposed Formula 2 powerboat racing event next February on the Manatee River along Riverwalk.
The money is now available for the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority as planning continues for the regatta and accompanying fireworks show, concerts, a 5K run, waterski show and more.
However, the June 1 deadline to make the deposit with Integrated Strategic Marketing, the event organizer, expired without payment. The DDA Board in April approved a contract with ISM that established the deadline anticipating approval of the tourism money, but a delay from the county to approve the contract saw the deadline expire.
The county commission voted Tuesday to provide the
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tourism dollars for the event. DDA Executive Director David Gustafson said the delay will have no impact on planning for the event.
"Dates on contracts get modified all the time, and this will not be an issue," he said. "ISM is well aware of what we are doing, and they are being kept in the loop."
ISM President Mike Fetchko confirmed ISM remains committed to the event. From Pittsburgh, where preparations are ongoing for the Three Rivers F2 event that draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, Fetchko said, "We've been continually updated on the progress from both Manatee County and the city of Bradenton."
Fetchko said he and the Powerboat Super League "remain fully focused on the event and look forward to positive updates in the next couple of weeks. Our relationship with Bradenton is still very strong and the event development is moving forward in a positive, progressive manner."
A schedule of events on the league's website shows the series has every intention of racing in Bradenton on or about the weekend of Feb. 7.
On Wednesday, Bradenton City Clerk Carl Callahan said the contract with ISM should appear before the city council June 11.
"All that's left on this now is it's up to us not to say no," said Callahan.
Ward 1 Councilman Gene Gallo restated the council's concern that the financial cost to the city remain minimal. Callahan said there are always risks with any undertaking, but how much risk is what can be mitigated.
"All you can to is to mitigate to the point where you don't lose big, and that's what they are on track to do," said Callahan. The city would likely cover the costs for any other large event such as extra law enforcement officers and staff time for public works employees. Gustafson said if the city approves the contract, there is still work to be done. "The next steps will be to begin the permitting process," he said. "If it's worth doing -- and we feel it is worth doing and a great benefit to the community, then you just continue to push hard and get that goal accomplished."