UNIVERSITY PARK -- The Modern Pentathlon World Cup in February at Nathan Benderson Park attracted roughly 13,500 guests and infused more than $5.7 million into the local economy, according to a report issued Tuesday by the local organizing committee.
Roughly 2,700 visitors, or 20 percent, were from outside the region, according to the report.
It constituted "a significant increase" from a similar event in June 2014 at the Sarasota venue, which attracted more than 9,000 guests with only an estimated 150 international visitors. It generated an economic impact of $2 million, according to the report.
"We are extremely happy about the partnership with the local organizing committee, the U.S. Pentathlon organization and the international group," said Nicole Rissler, director of sports for Visit Sarasota, the tourism marketing organization for Sarasota County. "We couldn't be more thrilled with the impact this series of events is making in our community."
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Sean Snaith, an economics professor at Orlando's University of Central Florida, questioned the final economic impact number.
"With these kind of events, the real impact to an area is the money coming in from the outside," he said. "Local visitors are really not 'new' spending, so it's the visitors at the hotels, flying in, or driving in, going to the
events, going out to eat -- that's where the real bang in terms of economic impact takes place.
"The question is: How long did they stay and how much per capita did they spend?"
The park will host two more pentathlons next year: U.S. Modern Pentathlon Olympic Trials in February and the Modern Pentathlon World Cup Final in April, which is an Olympic qualifier.
"We will get to see firsthand those who qualify, and the next time we see them, they'll be in Rio," said Katherine Harris, who chaired the local organizing committee, referring to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"We're thrilled with the opportunity of (hosting) the Olympic sport of the Modern Pentathlon, and to have such a significant economic impact on Sarasota and Manatee counties. The next two events in 2016 will be far more prestigious than the one we had in February."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.