Park History

Journey Through Time: The Unfolding Story of Nathan Benderson Park

Transformation of an Excavation Pit

NBP is situated west of Interstate 75 and east of The Meadows residential community. In the early 1990s, Sarasota County purchased the site, which was an active shell excavation pit for road construction fill. Cooper Creek enters the east side of the large lake and exits at the northwest corner. The Cattlemen Road extension allows access to the park from Fruitville Road and University Parkway.

Premiere Rowing Facility

Nathan Benderson Park is one of only a handful of sites in North America identified as having all of the natural attributes that make up a premiere rowing facility. The park began hosting organized regatta competitions in 2009.

World-Class, FISA Class A 2,000-Meter Sprint Rowing and Training Course

Athletes look forward to rowing on the park’s world-class, permanent, FISA Class A 2,000-meter sprint rowing and training course — the only such course in North America — while families and visitors can get on the water in a kayak, rowboat or stand up paddleboard, find a scenic spot to enjoy an afternoon picnic, or walk, run or bike our peaceful, neatly manicured trails encircling the shimmering lake.

Home to International Championships and Recreational Activities

The park is home to a range of international championships as well as a host of recreational activities for anyone who enjoys the outdoors – from dragon boat, canoe and kayak races to triathlon and cross-country events, 5- and 10k runs, corporate training events and more. The community park is also conveniently located immediately adjacent to University Town Center – Southwest Florida’s  shopping, dining and entertainment destination.

A Timeline of Transformation

  • Early 1990s: Sarasota County purchases the site and creates Cooper Creek Park
  • 2007: Benderson Family donates $1 million to Sarasota County to transform Cooper Creek Park into a health and wellness destination
  • 2007: The County renames the park after the late Nathan Benderson, the founder of Benderson Development who envisioned a community park where local residents could walk, bike and fish
  • 2009: The park hosts its first successful regatta
  • 2010: Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy (formerly Suncoast Aquatics Nature Associates, Inc.) is created
  • 2011: Construction begins on five-story finish tower and other site improvements to make it a first-class rowing venue
  • 2017: The Benderson Family Finish Tower opens
  • 2017: World Rowing Championships are hosted, bringing nearly $20M economic impact to Sarasota-Manatee
  • 2023: Planning underway for proposed indoor multi-sport complex, boathouse, additional park infrastructure and amenities