MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners Tuesday are slated to review a reimbursement agreement with a local nonprofit organization that calls for spending nearly $1 million over a maximum of seven years for marketing and promoting events at local sports venues.
The agreement with the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Association allows reimbursement for promoting tourism to Manatee County of up to $150,000 per year for four years with an option to extend through 2020, according to county documents.
The county intends to use money generated by the tourist development tax, a "bed tax" already imposed upon visitors to the county, and not ad valorem taxes, county documents said.
Last year, the world rowing association called FISA picked Sarasota-Bradenton as the venue for the 2017 World Rowing Championship.
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The organization has set opening ceremonies for Sept. 23, 2017, and racing from Sept. 24-Oct. 1, 2017.
A partnership comprised of Manatee and Sarasota counties and the nature center association will be hosting the event at Nathan Benderson Park, 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota.
A foundation headed by executives of another partner, Benderson Development Co., is raising money in support of the event.
"We have this jewel, a unique venue we can market,
and attract a lot of people to come here," Paul Blackketter, the association's president, told the Herald on Monday.
Last year, the park attracted 27 events, and brought in more than $12 million in economic impact and thousands of hotel room nights, said Blackketter.
"The more tourists, the more money we bring in," he noted.
The world rowing championship is expected to draw more than 50,000 to the area and create an economic impact of nearly $25 million, Blackketter said.
The agreement specifies circumstances in which the county's promotional money can be used, including venue-related fees when the association hosts out-of-town rowing teams/clubs; or when it sponsors trade shows, conferences or sales missions in connection with sports events at Benderson Park and/or Manatee County's Fort Hamer Training Facility, or other aquatic venues in Manatee County.
"We're going to the board to get their approval to buy advertising at Nathan Benderson Park," said Elliott Falcione, executive director for the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"It's an advertising venue buy similar to when we buy space at the Tampa Bay Rays games and, as we all know, there will be global awareness of the event at Nathan Benderson Park," Falcione said. "So the best thing we can do is expose our destination brand to athletes who are here competing and their friends and relatives."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.