Nathan Benderson Park Home To World Class Rowing

Nathan Benderson Park Home To World Class Rowing

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 for 2018.

“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,  


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Phone: 941-544-7270
Dated: April 23rd 2014
Views: 1,223
About Kathy: I enjoy walking the warm sandy beaches, swimming and watching the magnificent sunsets on Florida’s...

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