Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

County Changes Impact Method

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

County Changes Impact Method

Article excerpt

SARASOTA COUNTY

Sarasota County's tourism agency is reworking the way it calculates economic-impact figures for sporting events after some venues said the results were too conservative.

Visit Sarasota County has been using the same method to determine economic impact -- from the amount visitors spend during their stay to the amount of direct spending funneled into the local economy -- for nearly 10 years, said Nicole Rissler, the agency's director of sports.

The organization amended its 2015 fiscal year budget in order to pay for new economic-impact studies of sporting events that took place in 2014.

"When we created this system, we didn't have any international events to worry about," Rissler said. "Now we do. It seems appropriate to re-evaluate how we determine economic impact and add some new levels that are relevant to the events that are here now."

The first survey, conducted by Research Data Services, a Tampa Bay-based firm, looked at several events held at Nathan Benderson Park, the rowing center scheduled to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

Rowing park officials had said some of Visit Sarasota County's estimates were too conservative.

The park, which has received $10 million from the state and nearly $21 million in public money from Sarasota and Manatee counties, relies on the figures to justify the money it receives.

"In some ways, our figures are conservative," Rissler said. "For example, the Modern Pentathlon events draw mostly local spectators, but our calculator didn't offer a way to count the spending done by people who live here."

The agency's calculator is based on data provided by the Florida Sports Foundation and Visit Florida, the state's tourism agency. It considers the amount of money spent locally by event organizers, the number of adults and youth attending an event, where they are from and the amount of media attention an event attracts, among other factors. …

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