UNIVERSITY PARK -- The 2017 World Rowing Championships will be held in early fall, international rowing officials announced Wednesday.
The highly anticipated rowing event is scheduled for Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, 2017, at Nathan Benderson Park, said Paul Blackketter, chief executive officer of Suncoast Aquatic and Nature Center Associates, the nonprofit that operates the park.
An opening ceremony will be held Sept. 23 with a closing ceremony on the last day of the competition.
"We expect the opening ceremony to be special, impactful and not to overdo it, but make it just right," Blackketter said.
Blackketter traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland, last weekend to meet with Federation Internationale des Societes d'Aviron, the international rowing federation, to pitch dates for the championship.
Officials examined historic weather patterns and tried to pick dates with the fewest hurricanes over time. Other factors: hotel availability, holidays and rower schedules.
Nicole Rissler, director of sports for the Sarasota County Sports Commission, said the rowing event will give area hotels a boost during normally slow months.
"September into October are always months that we're trying to push accomodations-wise," she said. "Once you hit Labor Day, kids are back in school all over the country, and so it creates a lull until our busy months of February, March and April."
Blackketter also met with architects to finalize the Benderson Park boathouse design and to woo coaches and team managers to come to Florida, specifically Fort Hamer Park in Parrish, for training.
The World Rowing Championships are expected to bring 50,000 visitors to the region and generate nearly $24 million in economic impact, according to officials.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@sabrinarocco.