Grand Rapids has a new claim to fame in addition to great beer, furniture and art – it’s also home to world-class rowing along the Grand River. And it will soon host Michigan’s first national rowing championship to prove it.
Grand Rapids was named the host city of the 2014 USRowing Masters National Championships. The 2014 event will take place August 14-17, 2014 at Riverside Park at 2001 Monroe Ave. NE in Grand Rapids. The 2014 USRowing Masters National Championships will be the first national rowing event in Michigan.
“This win is a testament to the strength of West Michigan as a rowing destination,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) who submitted the winning bid along with the Grand Rapids Rowing Association. “We always knew we had a world-class rowing offering here between our natural resource of the Grand River, great venues like Riverside Park and exciting nearby attractions – and now the national rowing community will know it with USRowing selecting Grand Rapids as the host city for the 2014 Masters Championships.”
He added, “This truly was a statewide effort that started locally with the West Michigan Sports Commission and Grand Rapids Rowing Association, and got a shot in the arm from the Michigan Economic Development Council (MEDC) through its special event grant program that strengthened our bid offering.”
USRowing, the nonprofit organization recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States, hosts the Masters National Championships annually as a national rowing championship for competitors over the age of 21. As USRowing’s largest event, the Masters National Championships showcases the talents of approximately 2,000 rowers from all 50 states competing in 200 events. The 2014 regatta is projected to attract 6,000 spectators over four days and generate an estimated economic impact of more than $3 million.
“USRowing is proud to bring a national championship event to Grand Rapids - and Michigan - for the first time,” said USRowing Event Manager A.J. Dominique. “The partnership between Grand Rapids Rowing Association and the West Michigan Sports Commission promises to deliver a great experience on and off the water for attendees. Grand Rapids is a hidden gem in western Michigan. The masters competitors will be pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of things to do only a few miles from the venue.”
As part of planning the annual event, USRowing solicits bids from organizations throughout the country to serve as the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) to support USRowing – the role that the West Michigan Sports Commission and the Grand Rapids Rowing Association will play. The LOC’s responsibilities include assisting with setting up the 1,000-meter, six-lane river course; recruiting volunteers; soliciting sponsorships; and other logistical support. It is also a requirement that the bid is submitted in conjunction with a member organization of USRowing, to which Grand Rapids Rowing Association belongs.
“This event is a game-changer for our organization,” said Landon Bartley, president of the Grand Rapids Rowing Association. “People may be surprised to learn that rowing is big in West Michigan, it is growing fast, and it’s a great place to row. We have a naturally fantastic rowing venue with the Grand River. And this event just gets us even more exposure of our sport in the community and the region.”
Rowing in Grand Rapids dates back to the 1890s, and the first boathouse for the city's rowing club (then called the Grand Rapids Boat and Canoe Club) was built in 1910. The club reorganized in the mid-1980s under its current name and opened a new boat house in 2008 at 291 N. Park NW.
Guswiler and Bartley are attending the 2013 US Rowing Masters National Championships in Sarasota this week to promote Grand Rapids as the 2014 venue. Upon their return, both organizations will begin planning for the 2014 regatta in Grand Rapids, including providing sponsorship information and how the West Michigan community can participate.
About the West Michigan Sports Commission: The West Michigan Sports Commission, a non-profit 501 (c) (3), works to identify, secure and host a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to positively impact the economy and quality of life in the region. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked nearly 300 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 315,000 athletes and visitors, generating more than $100 million in direct visitor spending. Visit www.westmisports.com for more information.
About the Grand Rapids Rowing Association: Rowing in Grand Rapids has a long and storied history, with records of rowing on the Grand River dating back to as early as the 1890s. The Grand Rapids Rowing Association (GRRA) was incorporated in 1986 to organize rowing in the areas and runs high school, corporate and adult recreational and competitive rowing programs, as well as the popular Learn to Row classes. It also hosts several rowing regattas each year. Visit www.grrowing.org for more information.
About USRowing: USRowing is a nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing’s official suppliers include Vespoli, WinTech, Filippi, Croker Oars, Rudy Project, Concept2, Nielsen Kellerman, and Ludus Tours. USRowing also receives generous support from the National Rowing Foundation and its corporate sponsors and partners ANXeBusiness Corp, EMCVenues, Connect-A-Dock, JanSport, Rudy Project and Boathouse Sports. For more information, visit www.usrowing.org.