SARASOTA - John Bernfield and his friends drove down to Sarasota from Rochester, NY, a day early to see the park. They're among the thousand racers competing in the U.S. Rowing Masters National Championships at Benderson Lake.
"It's really great and to see it develop, it's really an awesome venue," he said.
John's like many masters racers, working full time and pursuing his hobbie when he can. The average racer is around 50, with good careers and have money to spend.
"In terms of economic impact, rowers tend to have higher levels of education, income and stuff like that, and a lot treat this as their vacation for the year," said A.J. Dominique, Events Manager of U.S. Rowing in Princeton, NJ.
He says his employees can't wait to get to Sarasota.
"My staff is already looking forward to getting to the beach as soon as they get here," he laughed.
But first, there's plenty of work to be done before the racing can begin Thursday morning. Among those who will be here to watch the first races, Governor Rick Scott who gave the park a $10 million dollar allocation.
"It's good to have the Governor here, this is his investment, his partnership, and seeing that as a return means a lot for him and the State of Florida." said Paul Blackketter of Benderson Development.
Racing goes from Thursday to Sunday, 8am to 5pm. Admission is $5. Parking is $5.
The International Rowing Federation will announce September 2nd whether or not Sarasota will host the International Rowing Championship in 2017.