MANATEE -- Concerts and activities are planned for both sides of the Manatee River during the 2016 Bradenton Area Riverwalk Regatta.
Much of depends on contracts being signed for Bradenton and Palmetto, but the process is moving forward, according to a tentative schedule of events.
A payment schedule was released following the Tourist Development Council approval this week to recommend spending $200,000 toward the Feb. 6 event. On Tuesday, the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority followed up that approval with an amended contract with Integrated Strategic Marketing, the event organizer, to reflect expenditures as a pass-through agency.
The TDC's recommendation is a $25,000 increase from last year. That comes on the heels of Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Elliott Falcione requesting the increase to fulfill a promise for a Christian concert and additional activities on the north side of the river.
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The first $50,000 payment due to ISM is July 1 for planning and a contract deposit with Formula 2. The second $50,000 payment is due Sept. 1 for planning and a contract deposit with Zambelli International Fireworks. The DDA will cut a final $55,000 check Nov. 1 to secure contracts on the remaining entertainment. The CVB will
retain $20,000 for marketing and advertising.
Last year's event created an estimated $8 million economic impact for the urban core. Palmetto's final cost after reimbursements was about $600. Bradenton's was about $80,000. Carl Callahan, Bradenton city clerk, said the actual costs were much lower because some were "in-kind costs," meaning city workers would have been working anyway, but were redirected to regatta needs.
Even with contracts needing to be signed, the only events not being listed at this time are the headline acts for concerts on the Bradenton Riverwalk's main stage area, as well as Palmetto's Christian concert. ISM President Mike Fetchko said his team is in talks with agents of national contemporary Christian music talent, including Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, considered to be one of the top agencies for actors and musicians.
"We talked to a lot of local churches to see what kind of band would be an attraction for Manatee County," Fetchko said. "I feel very optimistic that we will land a very good national act for Palmetto."
Much of last year's entertainment is expected to return to highlight the main event of Formula 2 racing with the Powerboat Super League Series kicking off their 2016 season. Several activities are scheduled to move to Palmetto, including the HydroCross Jet Ski races and stunt show, if permits are approved. Fetchko said discussions with the various agencies regarding permitting have been in full swing for weeks and the "formal process will begin this month."
A food festival row will be set up near Regatta Pointe Marina, and Riverside West Park will host an Extreme Sports Zone, Family Fun Zones and Art Gallery Row. The world champion Frisbee dog show, BMX and XPOGO shows will return to Riverwalk in Bradenton, along with a family fun zone, food festival and art gallery row.
"We are definitely expanding activities further to the east on Riverwalk past the skate park and volleyball area," Fetchko said.
Last year's major sponsors are returning, he said, but more are being sought. Interested sponsors can call 412-298-2884 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talks also continue with the Florida Department of Transportation. With Palmetto signing off on the permit to close the bridge, all focus, Fetchko said, is to try and meet the transportation needs of spectators going back and forth between the two cities. Whether that will be a trolley system or at least a bike lane is not yet known.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.