BRADENTON -- Jefferson Starship will take the stage at Riverwalk for a promised rock concert during the Formula 2 powerboat racing regatta on the Manatee River in February, organizers confirmed Tuesday.
The band, celebrating its 40th anniversary as Jefferson Starship and 50th anniversary as Jefferson Airplane, has pledged to play some of their biggest hits under both names when they take the stage at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 7 and play about 90 minutes.
Shortly after the band takes their final bow, Zambelli Fireworks will launch a show set to patriotic music at 6:30 p.m.
It "will be the largest fireworks show ever seen on the Sun Coast," said Mike Fetchko, Integrated Strategic Marketing president and regatta
Fetchko said Zambelli is using the same design team that formulated shows for the Olympics and Super Bowl.
The fireworks and concert are just two of several events that will last throughout the day Saturday, which is preceded by a Christian concert on Feb. 6 in Palmetto for which the talent has not yet been named.
The entire event schedule is now available on line at bradentonarearegatta.com.
Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Elliott Falcione updated commissioners on the regatta's progress, saying the June authorization to use $175,000 in tourism tax dollars to promote the event is justified within the county's goal of driving more tourism into the mainland areas.
"The islands are a big component, but we have to grow tourism somewhere and the two urban core redevelopment areas of Bradenton and Palmetto, as well as Lakewood Ranch, work together to create assets and drive tourism to the mainland," he said.
Falcione said as many as 100,000 people could attend the regatta, creating an $8 million to $10 million economic impact.
Bradenton Downtown Development Authority Executive Director David Gustafson said he expects the environmental permits within days and everything is on pace for the Florida Department of Transportation permit to close the Green Bridge throughout Saturday's events.
Commissioners praised the effort and for overcoming difficult challenges as the regatta plans inch closer to finalization. District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said she particularly loved that the event will be free and focused on family as a dry event.
Commission Chair Larry Bustle said his biggest question from residents has been about the safety of manatees. Gustafson reiterated that all of the permitting agencies have said February is the perfect time of year to hold an event on the river.
"We will have a helicopter in the air with Buddy Powell, who has been doing manatee studies for over 30 years. We'll have two spotters on the bridge and one on the water. If they spot anything, they will relay to Buddy who has the authority to stop the race until the manatee passes.
"The manatees, turtles and everything down to the little sawtooth fish will be respected," said Gustafson. "We won't leave any stone unturned."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.