Sunday, May 20, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco devotes $25,000 to promote skydiving events

NEW PORT RICHEY — A little-known but growing skydiving sport called "canopy piloting" is getting a lift.

Pasco tourism officials on Monday awarded $25,000 to promote the sport at two events this year at Skydive City in Zephyrhills: the United States Parachuting Association's canopy piloting national championship May 21-23 and the world championship in November.

Skydive City general manager David "T.K." Hayes told tourism officials the sport, with its daredevil appeal, could draw big crowds given better promotion.

Only a few dozen attended last year's national championship, but "we didn't have any money" to promote the event, he said.

Members of the county's Tourism Development Council watched a video showing skydivers looping upside down and skimming across a pond before skidding along a gravel bed — their landing spot. Some of the divers hit speeds of 70 mph.

"We'll have teams from all over the world competing," Hayes said.

"This is very marketable, and he will put heads in the beds (at hotels)," Pasco tourism director Ed Caum said, urging the council's backing.

"Skydive City is one of our unpolished gems that we need to invest in to at least see what our return is," he added.

The Tourism Development Council, which regularly awards grants to promote Pasco County, approved $10,000 for the national championship and $15,000 for the world championship.

Both received tourism dollars for the first time — money raised from bed taxes paid by hotel guests.

Hayes said he was aiming for a big enough promotional splash to draw hundreds to the events in the hope they become annual or at least biannual occurrences.

Promoters are also angling to build public interest. The sport dates back only 10 years but is quickly firing imaginations, said Ed Scott, the USPA's executive director.

Unlike in-flight formations that can involve a dozen or more skydivers at one time, canopy piloting is easily glimpsed from the ground, making it publicly accessible.

"Coming across the pond at 70 miles an hour, dragging a foot … visually it's a stunning event to watch," Scott said.

Hayes said he's considering other ideas, too. He might rent a public address system, erect a public tent for folks to escape the sun and hire an emcee for the three-day meets.

The competitions draw dozens of competitors worldwide, many who stay a week more to allow for practice jumps. Only Americans can vie for the national title but unofficial "guest" heats happening concurrently draw skydivers from as far away as Dubai, Hayes said.

Altogether, he's expecting 80 competitors at the nationals. The world championship, Nov. 1-7, will see 125 competitors plus dozens of support staff and coaches.

As the event flourishes, more skydivers and eventgoers will attend future events, boosting hotels and stores, Caum said.

"That's one of the things we're hoping to do with these events — increase hotel capacity," said Pasco Commission Chairman Jack Mariano, also a tourism council member. "With increased hotel capacity, we increase the need for more hotels."

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
For starters: Rays at Angels, with Romo again as “the opener”

For starters: Rays at Angels, with Romo again as “the opener”

UPDATE, 2:27: If the Rays win today, it would be their first four-game sweep since Sept. 20-23, 2013, vs. Baltimore and first on the road since Aug. 16-19 here at Anaheim. … It also would be the first time they swept back to back series on the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student looking forward to celebrating his family's new swimming pool and a substitute teacher whose home frequently hosted family gatherings were among the 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high sch...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Softball: Scouting the Academy at the Lakes vs. Lake Worth Christian semifinal

Softball: Scouting the Academy at the Lakes vs. Lake Worth Christian semifinal

Academy at the Lakes (24-4) vs. Lake Worth Christian (10-3)Where: 11:50 a.m. Monday at Historic Dodgertown, Vero BeachHow they got thereAcademy at the Lakes defeated Seacrest Country Day 11-1, defeated Canterbury 5-1Lake Worth Christian defeated...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Playing .500 ball is obviously no goal, and the Rays certainly know that.But given where they came from, that terrible 1-8 start that oozed into 3-12 and 4-13, climbing back to the respectability of .500 would be an accomplish...
Published: 05/20/18

Up to two tons of fertilizer spilled into channel leading to Tampa Bay, Kinder Morgan reports to state

TAMPA — As much as two tons of fertilizer accidentally spilled into a channel that leads to the upper part of Tampa Bay, according to a report sent Friday night to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Mil...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first part of the Rays' new and unusual pitching plan worked so well Saturday, as game "opener" RHP Sergio Romo struck out the first three Angels hitters, that the Rays will do it again on Sunday.That's right. Romo will st...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

TAMPA — A two-goal lead was suddenly only one, and the Washington Capitals, having pulled their goalie, had a furious 96-second siege.Andrei Vasilevskiy made the last three of his 28 saves to preserve the Lightning's 3-2 victory Saturday in Gam...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

TAMPA — Dan Girardi knew where the puck was heading. It was heading to Alex Ovechkin for a one-timer on net, so Girardi did the only thing he could do. He blocked it.With his rump."It hit me right in the cheek," said Girardi, the Lightning defe...
Published: 05/19/18