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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Floating Scott's boat: Sarasota to host 2017 world rowing events



Gov. Rick Scott is hailing the selection of Sarasota and Manatee counties to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships. The site will be a new $40 million rowing center under construction in Sarasota being built in part with taxpayer funds approved by the governor, after he initially vetoed the project.

In a statement, Scott said: "With 100,000 tourists expected to visit, nearly 1,500 rowers from across the globe coming to compete and millions in economic impact to Florida, this event will create many opportunities for our families and job creators.” (This year's rowing championships are in South Korea, and next year they are in the Netherlands, the group's web site says).

Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates agreed in writing to return state tax dollars  the state invested in the facility if it fails to generate in excess of $25 million in state sales tax between July 1, 2013 and December 30, 2018. “Because of the policies we put in place over the last two years, we were able to make strategic investments in Florida like the Nathan Benderson Park, which will be the site of the 2017 World Rowing Championships," Scott's statement said.

Three weeks ago, Scott toured the Sarasota Rowing Center and said he changed his mind after the project's sponsors convinced him of its statewide benefit, but some of the center's biggest boosters, including former state Sen. Pat Neal of Bradenton, have generously contributed to Scott's re-election campaign. But the choice of Sarasota as site of the 2017 competition appears to vindicate Scott's decision.

It also didn't hurt that the project team enlisted Donna Arduin, a budget expert who also served as Scott's adviser during his transition from election to taking office in the fall of 2010 following his election. As the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported, her firm oversaw an economic study that projected the center would generate $12.5 million a year in new sales taxes.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 12:07pm]


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