ENGLEWOOD, Fla. -- Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to descend into Englewood this weekend for the first ever Charlotte Harbor Super Boat Grand Prix. It's expected to have a grand impact on the local economy.
Crews were setting up all day Friday, but organizers say it's taken them three years to put it all together.
It's not your typical weekend get-together. 29 powerboats, teams, and vendors will fill Englewood Beach Park. Onlookers like Englewood resident Bill Tampsett say it's a good way to bring in the crowds and show the area off. "I think it is good because it brings in people from other areas and it will expose our town for what it has to offer, which will be good for business."
"Organized chaos, I like to call it." The first annual race was the idea of race director Jerry York. He says they've been working on it for three years, and they're expecting anywhere between 40,000 and 80,000 to come out for the event. "You never know with an event like this, but we think it is going to have an $8-$10 million impact."
He says that money isn't just staying in Charlotte County. “We have filled hotel rooms from down in Ft. Myers to Bradenton. I think it is going to help the entire area.”
Local charities in both Sarasota and Charlotte counties will benefit.
Ray Labadie with Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary says all the drink proceeds will go back into the community. "The money goes back to many of the local charities. The little leagues, Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Club."
No matter what side of the county line you’re on, everybody’s prepared for perhaps the biggest event the Englewood area has ever seen. "It's pretty cool. I would like to have a ride in one, but I don't think that is possible," says Tampsett.
Now if 80,000 people do show up, it would increase the Englewood population by about five times. So there has been some concern from locals about parking and traffic, but we've been reassured the plan has been worked though.
There are 12 off-site parking areas, from where they will be shuttling spectators to the event. There is no parking on Englewood Beach this weekend. For a list of the off-site parking, visit www.chsbgp.com.
Events begin at 9am Saturday, and there will be events throughout the day. Races start Sunday at noon.