Boat Races Remain Smart Investment

Guest Correspondence

As we gear up for the annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival this year, The Argus Foundation would like to congratulate Sarasota County Commission, the Sarasota City Commission and Visit Sarasota County for embracing this important sports tourism event.

The Grand Prix Festival has seen a documented economic impact of $36.2 million last year with 18,500 room nights. As if this weren’t enough, the world-wide television exposure was $1,827,964 through ESPN, Fox Sports and others. This year, the major exposure will be with CBS Sports and it will also include a rerun. This is incredible media exposure for our tourism industry.

Sports tourism was an initiative picked up by The Argus Foundation well before rowing came around. It is an important diversification of our tourism industry and it provides incredible exposure to a higher spending tourist than your typical beach tourist. But Sarasota also gets another return on this investment that needs to be understood.

There are five area non-profits that benefit from these boat races, The Florida Center for Child and Family Development, Children First, The Haven, Loveland Center and Special Olympics. Typically, the county has facilities that they rent out to social service nonprofits. That is not the story here though.

Four of these agencies that benefit from the boat races are in buildings valued at over $20 million that were built by the Suncoast Foundation. These buildings are rented to these non-profits by the Suncoast Foundation for $1 per year. The fifth agency receives financial support. 

Suncoast Charities for Children takes the monies raised from the boat races and grants the money to the Suncoast Foundation for repairs and improvements to these buildings, allowing the monies that the service providers receive to stay invested in much needed and many times expensive services. 

These grants affect approximately 8,000 kids and adults with special needs and their families. This is money the county and city are saving in social service monies, general fund monies and your taxes.

The Argus Foundation is a proud partner with the Suncoast Charities for Children for the 2018 Sarasota Grand Prix Festival. We are honored to be a part of a 34-year tradition of tourism and philanthropy for our neediest residents. The return on investment from this event is something of which every resident and elected official should be proud. 

Congratulations to the local governments for making a smart investment and we look forward to another great year of racing.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation and a volunteer board member for the Suncoast Charities for Children and Suncoast Foundation.

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