Year after year, the Bradenton area comes together to bring unique events that not only provide residents and visitors with world-class activities to enjoy, but also leave a positive economic impact on the community.
The 2017 calendar again was filled with top events, but one will be celebrated for years to come: The World Rowing Championships at Nathan Benderson Park.
The Bradenton area saw the conclusion of four years of hard work and anticipation as Manatee and Sarasota counties welcomed the World Rowing Championships in late September. For the first time in more than 20 years and only the second time in the event’s history, the championships were held in the United States.
Even before the medals were handed out, the region already had won.
By the time the races began, more than 42,000 spectators, plus 1,500 elite athletes and staff (representing 68 countries), had descended upon the region to visit our world-class venue. Over the course of the nine-day event, each would have the opportunity to explore our region and learn why our visitors return time and time again.
In addition, more than 300 members of the media were in town to catch the action, providing coverage that would reach millions around the globe, introducing them to Florida’s West Coast and presenting it as a potential vacation destination.
Though this audience reach certainly is something to be celebrated, hosting this international sporting event has generated even more important results: more than $22.6 million in economic impact to the region, a reputation for excellence and the procurement of future events of this magnitude, which will again put the Bradenton-Sarasota area on the world’s stage.
Paul Blackketter, the former president and CEO of Nathan Benderson Park, quickly developed global relationships and completed the proper due diligence that ultimately developed a world-class venue, resulting in the hosting of the 2017 World Rowing Championships. He should always be remembered as playing a huge part of leading the development of Nathan Benderson Park.
Nicole Rissler, former Sports Commissioner of Visit Sarasota, also should be commended for her hard work and professionalism throughout the extensive bid process. It should never be forgotten that without Rissler’s ability to help develop the dynamic proposal that competed against other global communities, our region might not have had the opportunity to host the world championships.
Beyond the aforementioned community leaders who led the charge for hosting the championship games, it was truly a pleasure to see both counties, the Benderson Corporation and the non-profit board of the organization that operates Nathan Benderson Park (known as “SANCA,” the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, Inc.) work hard together for the greater good.
Since it concluded, the 2017 World Rowing Championships has been included and examined for its “best practices” at sports conferences around the world and sports commissioners from across the globe have inquired about training opportunities in the destination.
In addition to its economic impact, the event’s effect on the county also will be seen for years to come as it led to the creation of legacy programs for our parks and natural resources, and launched an “Adopt-a-Team” program in Manatee County schools. These programs will be highlighted in future sports bids and aid in efforts to bring more sporting events to the area.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all who attended the event as well as those who volunteered and extended a warm welcome to our visitors. We are thrilled to share these results with you knowing that this is only the beginning.