Bradenton Regatta

Bradenton Downtown Development Authority votes to ban alcohol for 2016 regatta, approves contract with organizer

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority approved a memorandum of understanding Tuesday with the organizer of the planned Bradenton Area Riverwalk Regatta in 2016.

The memorandum says Integrated Strategic Marketing will contract and schedule all operations for the regatta and fireworks, handle all permitting and coordinate with a third party for concessions.

DDA members also inserted a provision there will be no alcohol on Bradenton's side of the event.

The 2015 regatta was advertised as an alcohol-free event, but Budweiser was allowed to sell alcohol offsite and people could bring it to the event grounds with a special cup.

"There should no alcohol on city property next year," said John Harlee, DDA board member.

The move provides an opportunity for Palmetto officials, who have voiced uncertainty about future participation in the regatta after being dissatisfied with how the first regatta benefitted their city. The Hernando DeSoto Historical Society suggested Palmetto officials market their side of the river as alcohol friendly for future regattas.

Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant did not return a request for comment Tuesday, but lack of beer was one of the top complaints about the first regatta.

DDA members also voted to move all permitting responsibilities to the event organizer. ISM would have to apply, secure and pay for any per

mits necessary for the event, and the DDA would sign off on them. The city handled the permit application process for the 2015 regatta, and ISM paid for them.

That process would include securing a permit from the Florida Department of Transportation to close the Green Bridge, which is unlikely in 2016 without Palmetto's support. The bridge was closed for the 2015 regatta.

The memorandum details the same events listed for the 2015 regatta, including powerboat races, jet ski races, professional water ski entertainment, fireworks and a concert in the park.

The estimated attendance of 75,000 people and economic impact of $8 million to $10 million also did not change from 2015.