$5 million in state money earmarked for rowing facility

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SARASOTA - Included in the state budget headed to Governor Rick Scott's desk is millions for the rowing facility at Nathan Benderson Park.

State lawmakers have agreed to include $5 million for the facility in the state budget - money officials hope will help them win a bid to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

Officials estimate if Benderson Park is chosen as a host, it will generate $24 million for the Suncoast by attracting world-class athletes and visitors to the area.

"Not only will they see the jewel that we have in our backyard, but they'll also probably come back for vacations after the fact. Sarasota and Manatee will become known as the sports performance development capital of the United States, maybe the world. And it opens up plenty of opportunities, not just for 2017, but for beyond," says Christine Unkel of the Sarasota Area Sports Alliance.

Sarasota and Manatee County officials recently hosted members of the Rowing Championship Venue Selection Committee. The winning venue host city will be announced in September.