Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist rower Amanda Polk spoke at Friday’s one-year kickoff event about the U.S. rowing team’s pride in hosting the world championships “on our home turf.”
“I know that we will represent you to the best of our abilities,” Polk said.
Polk is ranked ninth internationally in rowing; the 30-year-old Pittsburgh native won her first Olympic gold medal with the women’s eight team in Rio. Between 2010 and 2015, she won five gold medals at the world championships and a silver medal in 2009.
The park way back then compared to what we have done and what we have here today is phenomenal. There isn’t anything else like it in the U.S. that I’m aware of.
Manatee County Commission Chair Vanessa Baugh on Nathan Benderson Park’s growth
She voiced full confidence in the Manatee-Sarasota area’s ability to host such a large-scale event, but she ended her speech with words of wisdom for event organizers.
“I know the event planners and coordinators and commissioners are working to make sure everything goes by very smoothly but I tell you what, it rarely goes by smoothly,” she said. “And it’s a good thing because it’s a learning experience.”
World Rowing Championship 2017 staff expect the event to bring 40,000 visitors, 1,700 athletes from more than 60 countries and a $25 million economic impact to Manatee and Sarasota counties.
estimated economic impact of 2017 World Rowing Championships on Manatee-Sarasota area
Source: Max Winitz, World Rowing Championships 2017 communications, media and public relations manager
Economic impact measures the effect of an event on the economy of a specified area. Formulas for the measure typically account for changes in commerce, wages and jobs. World Rowing staff hired Tallahassee-based Downs & St. Germain Research to provide the preliminary estimate and conduct post-event surveys to confirm the impact, according to World Rowing Championships 2017 executive director Meredith Scerba.
Sarasota County Commission Chair Alan Maio lauded Nathan Benderson Park’s moneymaking power for the area at the kickoff held at the park. In September 2013, the World Rowing Federation announced Nathan Benderson Park as the winning venue for the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
“Between 2014 and 2016, this park generated over $18.8 million in sports-related tourism revenue,” Maio said. “Now that is an economic driver that is important to everything we do here.”
Speakers at 2017 World Rowing Championships one-year kickoff event
- Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio
- Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh
- Florida Sports Foundation President and CEO John Webb
- Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Director Carolyn Brown
- Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates President and CEO Bob Sullivan
- Rio 2016 Olympic Rowing Gold Medalist Amanda Polk