Living in Sarasota Florida
Something is in the water in Sarasota! It’s world-class athletes taking advantage of top-notch facilities and driving the region’s booming sports tourism market.
In September 2017, Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota-Bradenton hosted the 2017 World Rowing Championships, which was organized by FISA, the World Rowing Federation.
“This is what the World Cup is to soccer. It’s what the Super Bowl is to football,” says Max Winitz, communications and public relations manager for the World Rowing Championships. “It’s a marquee international regatta.”
The weeklong event brought 1,700 delegates from 69 countries and an estimated 40,000 spectators. Crowds like those bring with them an enormous economic impact. Organizers projected a $25 million impact for Sarasota County and the surrounding area.
Sarasota-Bradenton is only the second city in the United States to host the World Rowing Championships, which has been taking place for more than 50 years. Nathan Benderson Park is the only Class-A FISA-certified course in North America, and that is no accident. The facility was designed to be a top-tier venue that could attract marquee events such as this.
According to Rob Wells, director of sports for Visit Sarasota County (VSC), hosting the World Rowing Championships has also had an indirect economic impact by helping attract other events.
“They see a track record,” Wells says. “They see Sarasota knows how to do it.”
For example, the Baltimore Orioles Spring Training has taken place in Sarasota County for the past eight years. Their games and community-focused events attract more than 25,000 participants and spectators every year and have an estimated $89 million annual economic impact.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves are in the process of relocating their Spring Training operations to Sarasota County from Orlando, where they’ve been for the past two decades. The $75 million stadium, set for completion in 2019, will feature 9,000 seats at its proposed location.
“In order for us to continue being successful, it takes an entire community,” says Wells. “It takes an active business community. We continue to see great support and we continue to grow.” By April Corbin