Sarasota to Host 2017 World Rowing Championships
PRINCETON, N.J. – For the first time in more than 20 years, the World Rowing Championships will be held in the United States. Sarasota, Florida’s Nathan Benderson Park (NBP) has been selected by the International Federation of Rowing Associations (FISA) to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
The official announcement was made at the annual FISA Ordinary Congress on Monday, September 2, in Chungju, South Korea, following the 2013 World Rowing Championships. Present were officials from the United States Rowing Association, Sarasota County, Manatee County, Visit Sarasota County and Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA).
“USRowing is pleased and excited with FISA’s recognition of Sarasota as a world-class venue and its awarding of the 2017 World Rowing Championships to the United States,” said Glenn Merry, USRowing’s Chief Executive Officer.
“Sarasota has done something for rowing in America that is truly remarkable – creating, from scratch, a world-class rowing venue that will attract the top athletes from around the world.”
The 2017 World Rowing Championships are expected to attract more than 1,000 Olympic-caliber athletes from more than 70 countries.
The international competition, which takes place in the three years leading up to the Olympic Games, will be broadcast to a worldwide television audience of 130 million people. An estimated 40,000 spectators are expected to attend the event.
“FISA has carefully considered the venue, and we believe that Sarasota-Bradenton’s commitment to host a world-class event next to University Town Center is the perfect combination to attract athletes and spectators from around the world to our door.
This is a milestone for rowing in the United States,” said Paul Blackketter, President of Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates.
More than $40 million in public and private-sector funds have been committed to help transform a former borrow pit into Nathan Benderson Park, the premier rowing venue in North America, capable of hosting an Olympic-caliber event.
Sarasota County’s investment, $19.5 million, comes from a Tourist Development Tax (TDT), which is paid by visitors to the area. Those funds have paid for Phase I (dredge and fill) and Phase II (installation of park amenities, hardscaping and landscaping). Phase III of the project, construction of a state-of-the-art boathouse, timing towers, grandstands and other amenities, will be funded by SANCA and corporate support.
In addition to the commitment of local elected officials and the community, FISA officials cited the park’s close proximity to I-75, Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport and the City of Sarasota, calm waters, and year-round good weather as reasons for choosing Nathan Benderson Park.
Many of the United States’ best rowing teams spend the winter months training at NBP. The opportunity for Sarasota-Bradenton to partner with USRowing to host the world championships will further develop rowing interest around the country. The U.S. has more than a quarter of a million rowers competing both domestically and internationally.
“Earlier this summer, USRowing began implementation of our plan to ensure this site gets the national attention it deserves by holding our 2013 USRowing Masters National Championships at Nathan Benderson Park,” said Merry. “USRowing is a committed partner with SANCA, and this is the first in what I believe will be many opportunities for USRowing to bring national and regional-level competitions to this venue, in addition to hosting training camps for the U.S. National Team and athletes from other nations.
“USRowing would like to recognize and thank the State of Florida, Sarasota and Manatee Counties and the cities of Bradenton and Sarasota for their support of this project and the impact it will have on the growth of rowing. I also would like to personally recognize Randy Benderson and Benderson Development for their innovative vision that has created a truly unique American rowing venue.”
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