SARASOTA - Rowing is becoming an economic engine for the Suncoast. Tuesday, Sarasota County Commissioners were asked to approve a bid to host the World Rowing Championships in 2017.
“We hope the whole area will support this. I know it’s not for 2017, but it will really affect us between now and then as well.” Rob Ferguson the manager of the Holiday Inn Lakewood Ranch, and he is talking about the Sarasota/Manatee County partnership for a bid to host the World Rowing Championship at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. “It’s no secret that once Easter rolls around, things start to slow down. There's not as much traffic on the roads, and there's not as much wait in the restaurants, the whole area suffers a little bit. We can really use the boost.”
According to Manatee County commissioner Carole Whitmore, winning the bid to host a world championship would give area businesses that boost. “It would bring at least 45,000 spectators, not including the people that are going to be involved in the sport. You figure another 8,000. This is a wonderful economic boom for Sarasota and Manatee County.”
Both counties are spending a little over $1 million to prepare the area for the bid, including going to Switzerland and China to submit that bid.
But Whitmore says that investment is worth the effort, because it's going to bring an estimated $25 million to the area. “Return on investment is going to be triple fold, and it's going to bring awareness to Manatee and Sarasota County on what a great place we are, and this old barrow pit that’s turned out to be a world-class rowing facility.”
In the meantime, many area businesses that would benefit from that bid, say they are getting ready for those visitors. “We're very excited about it; not just for the tournament in 2017, but there are events yearly leading up to that that is going to help the area as well,” says Ferguson.