Sarasota to Host 2017 World Rowing Championships

by Allison Frederick | Sep 01, 2013
PRINCETON, N.J. – 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.

PRINCETON, N.J. – 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 official announcement was made at the annual FISA Ordinary Congress on Monday, September 2, in Chungju, South Korea, following the 2013 World Rowing Championships. Present were officials from the United States Rowing Association, Sarasota County, Manatee County, Visit Sarasota County and Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA).

"USRowing is pleased and excited with FISA's recognition of Sarasota as a world-class venue and its awarding of the 2017 World Rowing Championships to the United States,” said Glenn Merry, USRowing’s Chief Executive Officer. “Sarasota has done something for rowing in America that is truly remarkable – creating, from scratch, a world-class rowing venue that will attract the top athletes from around the world.”

The 2017 World Rowing Championships are expected to attract more than 1,000 Olympic-caliber athletes from more than 70 countries. The international competition, which takes place in the three years leading up 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.

“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,” said Paul Blackketter, President of Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates.

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 local elected officials and the community, FISA officials cited the park’s close proximity to I-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 United States’ best rowing teams 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 U.S. has more than a quarter of a million rowers competing both domestically and internationally.

"Earlier this summer, USRowing began implementation of our plan to ensure this site gets the national attention it deserves by holding our 2013 USRowing Masters National Championships at Nathan Benderson Park,” said Merry. “USRowing is a committed partner with SANCA, and this is the first in what I believe will be many opportunities for USRowing to bring national and regional-level competitions to this venue, in addition to hosting training camps for the U.S. National Team and athletes from other nations.

"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."

2017 World Rowing Championships Quote Sheet 

For more information, contact Allison Frederick, USRowing Communications Manager,, (609) 751-0710.

About Sarasota County

Sarasota County, located in southwest Florida, incorporated in 1921 and adopted a Home Rule Charter in 1971. The charter establishes a commission form of government with elected county commissioners as the county’s governing body. An appointed county administrator acts as chief administrative officer and is responsible for operations and administration. Approximately 386,000 residents live within the county’s unincorporated area and four municipalities, the cities of Sarasota, North Port and Venice, and the town of Longboat Key. Sarasota County is an All America County (2008), and its landmark Siesta Key Beach was named the No. 1 beach in America in 2011. The county’s budget has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for 23 consecutive years. In 2013, the county’s website,, was named by the editors of “Sunshine Review” as one of the most transparent government websites in the United States. For more information, contact the Sarasota County Communications office at 941-861-5884 or visit

About USRowing

USRowing is a nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing’s official suppliers include Vespoli, WinTech, Filippi, Croker Oars, Rudy Project, Concept2, Nielsen Kellerman, and Ludus Tours. USRowing also receives generous support from the National Rowing Foundation and its corporate sponsors and partners ANXeBusiness Corp, EMCVenues, Connect-A-Dock, JanSport, Rudy Project and Boathouse Sports. For more information, visit The USRowing National Team program relies on strong partnerships to enable continued success. New opportunities exist to support the teams through the next quadrennial, culminating with the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. America Rows, which supports diversity in rowing and the USRowing adaptive programs, also benefit from corporate support. Free basic membership and championship-level membership to USRowing is available and encouraged. For more information, please contact Beth Kohl at

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