Grand Rapids docks USRowing championships


The USRowing Masters National Championships draws about 2,000 rowers from all 50 states. Photo via

A year from now, Grand Rapids will become home to some world-class rowing, thanks to a hard-working West Michigan Sports Commission and a dedicated group of local rowing enthusiasts.

“World-class rowing”

WMSC has revealed that Grand Rapids will host the 2014 USRowing Masters National Championships next Aug. 14-17, at Riverside Park on Monroe Avenue along the beautiful banks of the Grand River.

“This win is a testament to the strength of West Michigan as a rowing destination,” said Mike Guswiler, WMSC president. “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.”

The sports commission teamed with the Grand Rapids Rowing Association to submit the bid that will bring the rowers here.

 “The partnership between Grand Rapids Rowing and the West Michigan Sports Commission promises to deliver a great experience on and off the water for attendees,” said A.J. Dominique, USRowing event manager. “The masters competitors will be pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of things to do only a few miles from the venue.”

$3M impact

The USRowing event is expected to draw about 2,000 rowers from all 50 states, and they will compete in 200 events over those four days.

Another 6,000 spectators are likely to come here for the event and spend over $3 million with hotels, restaurants and merchants during their stay.

“Big in West Michigan”

But the economic impact the event will have isn’t the sole reason the local rowers are excited.

“This event is a game changer for our organization,” said Landon Bartley, president of GRRA, which belongs to USRowing.

“People may be surprised to learn that rowing is big in West Michigan,” said Bartley, who recently attended the USRowing championships with WMSC’s Guswiler in Sarasota, Fla. “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.”

Guswiler said the Michigan Economic Development Corp. helped land the event by giving the sports commission a grant that strengthened the agency’s proposal.

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