There will be a 2016 Riverwalk Regatta, at least in Bradenton. Wednesday, city commissioners voted in favor of the event coming back for year two. However, a neighboring city is not going to participate unless there are major changes next year.
Eddie Patel, the owner of Marathon gas station in Palmetto, loves his location. It’s right over the busy Green Bridge that connects Palmetto to Bradenton. He said on a Saturday over 200 people stop by for gas or a cold drink. That is except one Saturday.
“Less then usually came out,” he said.
Patal said that February 7th, the day of the Bradenton area Riverwalk Regatta was one of the slowest he has ever had. The Green Bridge was shut down for thousands of spectators to enjoy the races. However, Patel said he sold half the gas then a usual Saturday.
“Four thousand gallons. Usually we do 9,000,” he said.
Patel said he was shocked, because he heard that thousands of people were coming to the area.
“We heard that like 40,000 people coming. I prepare stock and everything. But really, not came out. The road is closed so everybody stay on the other side,” he said.
Today Bradenton City Council unanimously voted in favor of the Regatta coming back next year with a date of February 6th.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant and Palmetto Commissoners are not yet convinced they want the event to take place on their side of the Green Bridge.
Mayor Bryant wants to make sure that businesses like Patel’s benefit from the event. She also wants to make sure that there are plenty of activities in Palmetto this time around such as a concert that she was promised last year but never received.
“We have to look out for Palmetto. And I think we can make that happen, with you know the leaders in the community. Get an agreement, get some type of a contract. So that our commissioners are comfortable to close the Green Bridge again,” Bryant said.
Bradenton, along with the event organizer Mike Fetchko, said that working with Palmetto is their top priority. Fetchko said there will be more events in Palmetto as well as food venders. And he is even looking at extending the F2 race course closer to Palmetto.
“We see this as an annual annuity that’s going to be a tremendous victory for Palmetto, Bradenton and Manatee County,” Fetchko said.
FDOT needs support from both city mayors in order to close the Green Bridge. Last year over 30,000 spectators watched from the location.
According to an economic impact report 80,000 people attended this year’s Regatta. And there was an $8 million impact to the area.