Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, the non-profit that manages Sarasota County’s Nathan Benderson Park, hired Stephen V. Rodriguez, of the Florida Sports Foundation, will come on board as the organization’s president and CEO. Rodriguez brings to the park more than 25 years of event marketing and management experience, coupled with over 13 years in the sports industry. He will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the park’s operations and management and will officially take the reins in August.

Bill Robinson, chairman of the SANCA board, said: “Stephen’s expertise in sports promotion combined with his background marketing the State of Florida as a premier sports destination meshes impeccably with SANCA’s mission.

Rodriguez will be the third CEO for the organization. Paul Blackketter helped launch the facility and land the World Rowing Championships scheduled for September, and Bob Sullivan has led the organization most of the last year.

"Paul created NBP, Bob has maintained it, and we are confident Stephen will propel it in into the future,” Robsinon said.

A University of FLorida alum, Rodriguez comes to Sarasota from an 18-year tenure at the Florida Sports Foundation where he served as senior vice president since 2010. Over his duration at the Foundation, he was responsible for administration, event planning, finance, fundraising, government relations, program management, tourism and economic development. He is also the longest standing director of the Sunshine State Games and the Florida Senior Games.

Prior to the Foundation, he was employed by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission and Sports Institute. While there, he was responsible for the administration of the Commission’s Unified Youth Sports Program for the county and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place Kicker Award, in addition to hosting events, such as the NAIA Spring Championship Games and NPAL Baseball World Series among many others.  Before Palm Beach, he was the office manager and membership chair at the USA Track & Field/Florida Association.  

“Nathan Benderson Park has established itself as a world renowned rowing center and versatile county park that hosts numerous events for the entire community to enjoy.  I couldn’t be more excited to bring my experience and passion for the entire area to SANCA,” said Rodriguez.   “I look forward to working with the SANCA staff and board, as well as the Sarasota County Government, in taking NBP to the world stage, beginning with the World Rowing Championships in September, NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships in 2018, and 2018 World Rowing Masters Regatta.”