Sarasota-Manatee Weaves Fortune with Elite Sports


Recent developments further solidify Manatee and Sarasota’s reputation as a major hub for world-class sports, a standing which in turn delivers positive impact on the counties’ economy including potential benefits to the housing sector.

Just this June, it was announced that the Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota has been chosen as the venue for the 2016 US Olympic Team Trials in rowing. The American rowers’ Games qualifiers will be held in April 2016 in advance of the Olympics set for August next year at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Nathan Benderson Park, home to a world-class 2,000-meter sprint rowing and training course, will also be the site of the World Rowing Championships to be held September-October 2017. This event is expected to draw 1,000 competitors from 70 countries, plus 40,000 fans. It will be covered by worldwide TV with audience reach of 130 million. The 2017 world rowing competitions will be the first time in 20 years for the United States to host the prestigious international event.

Pro football’s draw

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Also this June, the Major League Football (MLFB), a publicly traded, professional, spring football league, announced that it is moving its world headquarters at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch. MFLB’s first season for its 10 teams is set in 2016, providing potential exposure to U.S. markets previously not covered by Sarasota and Bradenton’s business promotion initiatives.

Directly, MLFB’s 10 teams would each bring into Premier Sports Campus training camp 80 pro football players. With team coaches and staff, a league official said they could bring around 1,000 people to the local camp. As the league grows and develops, fans expected to come in will complement those already drawn by the baseball spring training camps of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton and the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota.

Like Nathan Benderson Park and Premier Sports Campus, Bradenton’s private athletic training institute IMG Academy is likewise in the news recently, having received a $2 million appropriation from the Florida legislature this June. This amount, according to an IMG official, will fund a campus program attracting top sports performance businesses to the Bradenton area.

Market serve from a tennis icon

Notably, a Bradenton tennis academy ran by the legendary coach Nick Bollettieri and later absorbed into IMG, has been instrumental in drawing sports luminaries to eventually settle in the Manatee-Sarasota area. Among these sports icons is one of Bollettieri’s student-protégé, Monica Seles, a Tennis Hall of Famer who calls Laurel Oak Country Club her home.

Sometime in 2014, Seles listed her 5,781-square-foot estate home in the market for Manatee-Sarasota homes for sale, but she’s not leaving, just downsizing. As of this June, her property remains sales-listed with an asking price of $1.75 million. Quite appropriately, this five-bedroom home not only has a large pool and spa but also a hard surface, lighted tennis court. Besides a small basketball court plus space for another tennis court, Seles’s property also boasts of a separate exercise room with full bath.