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In a late-hour reversal Monday, April 28, state lawmakers killed $2.5 million in funding for the Nathan Benderson Park rowing venue. That setback forces the nonprofit that was created to manage the facility to come up with a plan to accelerate its private fundraising efforts. Despite the denial of state funding this year, Paul Blackketter, president of Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA), is "very confident" the $52-million rowing complex will be ready to go by 2016, well in time to host the 2017 World Rowing Championship. But it is going to take $11 million in private d o n a t i o n s i n o n e y e a r, a n d a n o t h e r request next year for state funding from the Legislature. T h e i n c r e a s i n g l y controversial row - ing park — touted by Teams compete in an event during the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association (FSRA) Sweep Championships on April 26 at Benderson Park. Photo by Norman Schimmel LATE-HOUR STATE FUNDING CUT FORCES BENDERSON PARK SUPPORTERS TO ACCELERATE PRIVATE FUNDRAISING EFFORTS — AND THE SETBACK COMES AMID RISING SCRUTINY A BACKUP PLAN The message we got from our legislators is 'Show us you have a private- public partnership.' Paul Blackketter President Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates By Roger Drouin County Editor

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