The 2017 World Rowing Championships

Sept. 23 to Oct. 1 in 2017, Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park will be teeming with an anticipated 1,700 athletes and coaches, as well as 40,000 spectators.

As the upcoming host for the 2017 World Rowing Championships, Sarasota County is bracing itself for an inundation of scullers and sports-loving tourists next fall.

From Sept. 23 to Oct. 1, Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park will be teeming with an anticipated 1,700 athletes and coaches, as well as 40,000 spectators, from more than 60 countries. The international regatta is expected to greatly increase the area’s visibility, revenue and appeal.

“The event isn’t only important to Sarasota County but also to the entire region. The estimated economic impact for Sarasota and Manatee counties is expected to be around $25 million,” says Max Winitz, the event’s communications, media and public relations manager. “Those attending will dine in our restaurants, shop in our stores and sleep in our hotels. The hope is that, once they experience this beautiful area, they will want to come back in the not-so-distant future.”

Future attendees are already buying tickets in such coveted spots as the Grandstands, which are located just feet from the finish line; the Beach Seats, along the sandy stretch that spans the final 500 meters of the 2,000-meter course; and the Championship Pavilion, the lounging area on the park’s west bank.

Rowing at Nathan Benderson park
Rowing at Nathan Benderson park

The quality and ambiance of the venue are truly top-notch, according to Glenn Merry, the CEO of USRowing (the nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States).

“The rowing venue at Nathan Benderson Park is unique in every way, having been designed and built expressly for the purpose of hosting rowing competitions. The water facilities feature a 12-hectare regatta island; beautiful, natural spectator areas; a 2,000-meter wave attenuation system and a television road,” Merry says. “The course is already in use year-round and has hosted more than 15,000 rowing competitors since the opening of the lake. There are also access points along the entire length of the course, walking trails and a natural setting, to enjoy camaraderie with rowing friends and family.”

When visitors are not watching or performing in the competition, they are encouraged to head out to the award-winning beaches of Siesta, Lido, Casey and Longboat Keys, as well as Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island.

Cultural, outdoorsy out-of-towners can experience such destinations as The Ringling, South Florida Museum, Mote Marine Aquarium, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Historic Spanish Point, TreeUmph! Adventure Course, Myakka River and Oscar Scherer State Parks, the Powel Crosley Estate and the Riverwalk in Bradenton. And options for retail therapy abound in shopping hubs such as the Mall at University Town Center (UTC), Lakewood Ranch Main Street, St. Armands Circle, Ellenton Premium Outlets, and downtown Sarasota and Bradenton.

“The 2017 World Rowing Championships will showcase Nathan Benderson Park to the world. There have been a number of fantastic regattas to take place at the park to date but nothing like this when it comes to an international presence,” Winitz says. “We feel that, with the worldwide publicity this event will get, it will bring more and more sporting events and regattas to Nathan Benderson Park.”

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