Boat race to pack big economic punch
Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas once again gathered officials, staff, sponsors and the media for the official announcement of this summer’s big event Thursday — Offshore Powerboat Racing.
Rosas repeated that bringing in this event was a big undertaking, but said it will be worth the effort.
“The goal is to showcase our waterfront and continue to showcase our gems here in the city of Dunkirk,” he emphasized.
The event is expected to attract more attention than even the air show did the past two years.
“The economic impact is going to be huge. We had the air show and that brought in thousands of people to our community, but this is going to be an internationally televised race. … Just to be able to showcase Dunkirk in that way will have a huge impact on our city and our county as a whole,” Development Director Rebecca Yanus said.
Special Events Coordinator Hector Rosas said they were once again looking to Dunkirk’s history — first for the air show and now for boat racing.
Race World Offshore LLC Producer Larry Bliell got to see the amazing economic impact of the sport, which is similar to NASCAR with souped-up catamaran and v-haul speed boats, in Key West.
“What we built (the event’s renewed popularity) on is clean, family fun,” Bliell said.
He has a past connection to the Dunkirk area, calling it a “second home” and felt the call to hold an event was kismet.
“I would come up here to get out of the house and look around and think, ‘this would be a great place for a race.’ … It was through some strange contacts and happenings I spoke with Hector,” he added.
Thursday was Bliell’s and fellow producer Rich Dancision’s sixth visit to the city, with previous visits used to determine logistics and the date, which will be the third weekend in August.
“I think that if we can do this year after year, we’ve found in cities that we’ve gone to (from) the first year, it builds and it builds and it builds until it builds to a point where you might have to get these hotels bumped up because we’re going to need more hotel rooms,” Bliell said.
Dancsion added “We’d like to be here forever.”
Taxpayer money will not be used for the event, which is made possible by presenting sponsors including Chautauqua County, DFT Communications, Fieldbrook Foods and Athenex, as well as other sponsors including high-octane fuel sponsor Holiday Harbor Marina, buoy sponsor Bart’s Cove, Lawley Insurance, stage sponsor APG Sound Production, ECR, Spike Dailey’s and WDOE. A boat parade is planned for that Friday and the stage sponsor is Chautauqua County Rehabilitation and Nursing and the tent sponsor is Owl Homes.
Hector Rosas said there will be an additional opportunity for promotion in a two-minute commercial spotlight on Dunkirk and Chautauqua County amenities to be aired on NBC Sports and in 105 countries internationally. There are also plans to have the boats on display at Sunset Bay, Barcelona Harbor and Dunkirk’s pier in the days leading up to the event, which will be easily viewed at the pier, Wright Park/Lakefront Boulevard, Point Gratiot and Cedar Beach.
“Good things are happening in Dunkirk,” Mayor Rosas said, concluding the press conference.
Visit the OBSERVER Facebook page to see video from Thursday’s press conference for the official announcement of this summer’s big event.