In a little under a year, the World Rowing Championships will return to the United States for just the second time in the regatta’s 54-year history. Sarastota’s Nathan Benderson Park will host the event.
After the olympics, many rowing enthusiasts were left with the question— where do we go from here? During the Rio Games, rowing events weren’t featured in NBC’s most accessible coverage, but fans of the sport haven’t yet given up hope. Right now rowing lacks star power on an international stage, but it just may need a quick spark to pique overall American interest.
That spark could come from the Championships.
Benderson is a world-class venue for a rowing event of this caliber. The 600-acre park contains one of the nation’s finest rowing courses, and it’s not a facility that the local government is going to forget any time soon. Over $40 million worth of funding has flowed into Benderson, providing the Sarasota park with a boathouse and training facility that can make any rower feel at home.
The championships begin next September, but the local community is already in full swing for preparation. A recent Herald-Tribune article captured the buzz surrounding the coming event. Amanda Polk, a 2016 Olympic rowing gold medalist, delivered a speech to get the local community excited by a Championship on American soil. A new sculpture that, with a countdown clock affixed to the base, was ceremoniously unveiled.
The last time the World Rowing Championships were stateside was in 1994, at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. Relatively speaking, it wasn’t that long ago. But we are living in a vastly more connected world today than in the mid-90’s. That’s sure to have an impact on the event’s reception next fall.