Rissler to Boost Support At Benderson Park



After flying around the globe to help secure sporting events taking place in Nathan Benderson Park, Nicole Rissler already has a good understanding of the assets managed by the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center. Last week, it was announced she would help run the organization and the world-class sporting venue. Rissler by mid-June will leave her current post as director of sports at Visit Sarasota County and take on the new role of chief operating officer for SANCA.

Rissler said her top priority will be making sure there will be an increase in programming at the county-owned park. “I want to look at developing and having additional events, from international down to local community events,” she said. That means more than just rowing events. She sees potential for growth with dragonboat races, as well as some land-focused events like marathons and triathlons. She notes the facilities accommodate bicycle and running events as well as water-based ones, even though accomplishments like landing the 2017 World Rowing Championship events remain the highest profile achievements with the venue thus far. 

But development of revenue will also be an important part of the job. While the amount of public funding for SANCA has drawn scrutiny, Rissler wants to boost private sector partnerships, sponsorships and other ways of drawing money. “The biggest focus will be on business development and marketing and communications,” she said. 

The facility itself, though, will remain a publicly enjoyed resource. Rissler stressed it remains a public park, and said residents will have plenty of opportunity to utilize the facility without buying a ticket to a championship. “One of the coolest things about the facility is how you can go at 5 at night and see tons of people biking and running and walking around the lake,” she said. 

As far as her old job, Rissler said she wants to see a replacement in the sports director position at Visit Sarasota County in place before she leaves. “From our perspective, sports is in a really good space,” she said.

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