Though fabled to be the spot where the biggest largemouth bass
in Florida was caught and released, the 600-acre park was not considered a
world-class anything when Sarasota County bought it 15 years ago.
Now it is the epicenter of sports tourism development in the
area, as county commissioners approved $40 million plans to transform the park
into the No. 1 competitive rowing facility in the nation.
Nathan Benderson Park will co-host the 2018 National Collegiate Athletic
Association's Rowing Championships with the University of Central Florida — yet
another high-profile sporting event on its way to the region in what is
becoming an important segment of the tourism economy.
Officials with the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Association,
the nonprofit group in charge of operations at Benderson Park, submitted bids
to host the NCAA Rowing Championships in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but were chosen
“This is a top tier sporting event with lots of regulations.
We will be working closely with UCF to put on the event,” said Paul
Blackketter, chief operating officer with SANCA. “But if we can host the World
Championships, we can host the NCAAs.”
Rowing destination While the NCAA Rowing Championships will not draw 42,000
athletes and spectators and millions in economic impact over 10 days as the
world championships will, the nationally televised event would further cement
Benderson Park's status as a top rowing destination.
There will be about 3,000 athletes and fans over three days of
competition in May 2018, according to NCAA spokesman Cameron Schuh.
Venues were chosen based on the best overall student-athlete
experience, the quality of the facility and hotel availability.
Nathan Benderson Park is situated west of Interstate 75 and
east of The Meadows residential community. The newly constructed Cattlemen Road
extension provides access to the park from Fruitville and University
Parkway. One of a handful of sites in North America identified as having
all of the natural attributes that make up a premiere rowing facility,
Author:Kathy Toonder Phone: 941-544-7270 Dated: April 23rd 2014 Views: 1,074 About Kathy: I enjoy walking the warm sandy beaches, swimming and watching the magnificent sunsets on Florida’s...
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