Congratulations are in Order: Sarasota to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships

2017 World Rowing Championships awarded to the U.S.  

International event to be held in Sarasota, Florida
SARASOTA, Florida – For the first time in more than 20 years, the World Rowing Championships will be held in the United States. Sarasota, Florida’s Nathan Benderson Park (NBP) has been selected by the International Federation of Rowing Associations (FISA) to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
The 2017 World Rowing Championships are expected to attract more than 1,500 Olympic-caliber athletes from more than 70 countries. The international competition, which is a precursor to the Olympic Games, will be broadcast to a worldwide television audience of 130 million people. An estimated 40,000 spectators are expected to attend the event.
Present for the official announcement, which was made on Sept. 2 in Seoul, South Korea, were officials from Sarasota County, Manatee County, Visit Sarasota County, Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA) and the United States Rowing Association. The commitment by Sarasota and Manatee counties, SANCA and the support of USRowing convinced FISA’s world congress that returning to the United States for the World Championship was the correct vote.

[clearboth]Sarasota’s “Team” in South Korea

[clearboth]More than $40 million in public and private-sector funds have been committed to help transform a former borrow pit into Nathan Benderson Park, the premier rowing venue in North America, capable of hosting an Olympic-caliber event. Sarasota County’s investment, $19.5 million, comes from a Tourist Development Tax (TDT), which is paid by visitors to the area. Those funds have paid for Phase I (dredge and fill) and Phase II (installation of park amenities, hardscaping and landscaping). Phase III of the project, construction of a state-of-the-art boathouse, timing towers, grandstands and other amenities, will be funded by SANCA and corporate support.

In addition to the commitment of state and local elected officials and the community, FISA officials cited the park’s proximity to Interstate 75, Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport and the City of Sarasota, calm waters, and year-round good weather as reasons for choosing Nathan Benderson Park.

Many of the best rowing teams in North America spend the winter months training at NBP. The opportunity for Sarasota-Bradenton to partner with USRowing to host the World Championships will further develop rowing interest around the country. The United States has more than a quarter of a million rowers competing both domestically and internationally. NBP will continue to host events throughout the year, demonstrating that the United States of America has the premiere rowing venue in the Western Hemisphere.


[clearboth]Let the Celebration – and preparations – begin!


[clearboth]Notable Quotes:
“Sarasota County is committed to hosting this rowing championship at our world class venue, Nathan Benderson Park.  Our partnership with Manatee County, SANCA and the community demonstrates our commitment to provide a multi-use sports venue that is unparalleled in the world.”– Randall H. Reid, Sarasota County Administrator
“Sarasota County has a long history of hosting major sporting events with great success and we are eager to show the world our amazing community and world-class rowing venue.” – Carolyn Mason, Sarasota County Commissioner
“Sarasota County and the Gulf Coast region have a long tradition of providing some of the best venues for amateur and professional athletes to train and compete in. We are proud to have been chosen to host such a high-profile international event and look forward to showing the world why we are one of the premiere destinations for athletes from around the globe.” – Joe Barbetta, Sarasota County Commissioner
“USRowing would like to recognize and thank the State of Florida, Sarasota and Manatee Counties and the cities of Bradenton and Sarasota for their support of this project and the impact it will have on the growth of rowing. I also would like to personally recognize Randy Benderson and Benderson Development for their innovative vision that has created a truly unique American rowing venue.” – Glenn Merry, USRowing Chief Executive Officer
“We are very excited about having the World Championships back in the U.S. It will be a great opportunity for our athletes and fans to enjoy world class rowing, in person. It will also be a great experience for the elite rowers of the world to experience Sarasota hospitality and all that Florida has to offer.” –  Curtis Jordan, USRowing Director of High Performance
“FISA has carefully considered the venue and we believe that Sarasota-Bradenton’s commitment to host a world class event next to University Town Center is the perfect combination to attract athletes and spectators from around the world to our door. This is a milestone for rowing in the United States.” – Paul Blackketter, President, Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates
[clearboth]”Our team has been working so intensely on this bid for the past 10 months, to see our dream now realized is an incredible moment.  We now have this opportunity to show off our wonderful community and our hospitality to the world. ” – Virginia Haley, President, Visit Sarasota
“It’s great to see the World Rowing Championships returning to U.S. soil for the first time in 25 years. I am even more excited that it will be taking place in my home state of Florida. Regardless of where my rowing career takes me, I am sure to be in attendance in Sarasota in 2017.” – Stephen Young, Tampa native, 2013 U.S. National Team Member and World Champion

“I’m so thrilled that rowing is gaining popularity in the United States, to the point that we have a brand new platform to host an international championship. I hope that this event will continue to spark excitement around our sport. As an athlete, I love traveling around the world to compete, but there is something very unique and special about being able to perform at home, in front of friends and family.” – Katelin Snyder, Winter Park native, 2013 U.S. National Team Member and World Champion




“Seeing the growth and evolution of Florida rowing from my days as a junior sculler to this, is something that I am very proud to be a part of. Having the World Rowing Championships in my home state will give my family and friends the opportunity to experience an elite, international competition for the first, and perhaps only time in their lives. Representing the United States at this event will be one of the most memorable experiences of my rowing career.” – Robin Prendes, Miami native, 2012 Olympian, 2013 U.S. National Team Member


For more information, contact the Sarasota County Communications at 941-861-5884 or
Photos: Justine Griffin