The NCAA Rowing Championships will not be held at Nathan Benderson Park for the first time until next year, but the NCAA has already scheduled a return.
The organization announced Tuesday it will bring its Division I, Division II and Division III championships for women to Benderson Park in both 2021 and 2022, positioning the Sarasota facility to play host to the event three times in five years. The NCAA does not sponsor a men’s rowing championship. The 2019 championships will be held in Indianapolis, and the 2020 championships will go to Oak Ridge, Tenn. All three NCAA championships at Benderson are being held in conjunction with host school Central Florida.
“I think the NCAA recognizes what a good course we have here,” said Robert Sullivan, the president and CEO of Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates. “And with the finish tower now being completed, it really enhances our ability to go out and bring these events here.”
While the NCAA championships will be a new endeavor for the facility, the park has played host to an array of high-profile national and international competitions. Last spring, Benderson played host to USRowing’s Olympic trials. This fall, the park plays host to its biggest event yet: The World Rowing Championships, which start Sept. 23.
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I think the NCAA realizes what a good course we have here.
Robert Sullivan, Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates president and CEO
The park is nearing the completion of its most significant projects ahead of the world championships, constructing a finish tower that is scheduled to be complete in July.
“The events that we’ve had in the past really have kind of cemented what the park offers to rowers and what the community offers,” Sullivan said. “More than anything else I think that we’ve created a community in Sarasota and Manatee counties, and what we’ve created is quite a spectacular event venue.”
In the spotlight
Nathan Benderson Park has lined up multiple major events over the coming years:
2017: World Rowing Championships (Sept. 23-Oct. 1)
2018: World Rowing Masters Regatta (Sept 26-30)
2018: NCAA Div. I, II and III rowing championships (May 25-27)
2021: NCAA Div. I, II and III rowing championships (May 28-30)
2022: NCAA Div. I, II and III rowing championships (May 27-29)