International powerboat racing is returning to Jacksonville.
The Duval County Tourist Development Council on Thursday heard a presentation from P1 Powerboat CEO James Durbin and then approved a $20,000 grant to be used for marketing and television production and distribution for the June 5-7 event.
The international racing series made its Jacksonville debut in June with a weekend of races in the St. Johns River near Memorial Park in Riverside. The event will return to the park this year, with powerboat and personal watercraft races and a festival for spectators in the park.
Durbin said P1’s international television fan base accounted for about $2 million in global media value in 2014. He predicted a 1 billion-household prime-time television audience for this year’s races.
Last year, the city contributed $25,000 to the event from the Sports and Entertainment budget, while the tourism council approved a $25,000 grant.
Durbin said the 2014 Jacksonville stop on the tour lost about $52,000, but he looks at Jacksonville as a market that can grow and P1 is committed to making it an annual event early in June. The Jacksonville stop will be the first races in the 2015 P1 Super Stock Series.
“It’s an opportunity to attract fans to kick off the racing season,” he said. “Our fans will know that if it’s the first weekend in June, they need to be in Jacksonville.”
City Sports and Entertainment Business Development Manager Joel Lamp said in order to attract more spectators, a flotilla will be promoted this year to encourage fans to view the races from the water in addition to in the park. Water taxi service may be available as well to and from the park.
“We’ll create a boating atmosphere,” said Lamp.
Also approved was a $20,000 grant for national and regional marketing of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. Produced by the city and presented by AARP, the festival is scheduled May 21-24.
Stages will again be set up Downtown at the Shipyards property and at Bay and Newnan streets. The Jacksonville Landing will again be a venue.
This year, Hemming Park is scheduling local jazz performers on Saturday during the festival.
Director of Special Events Tonisha Gaines said survey results showed 34 percent of people who attended the 2014 festival came from outside Jacksonville and 56 percent of the visitors stayed in hotels during the event.
The city plans to continue to market the festival in Atlanta, Tampa and Orlando and is considering promoting a charter bus service to bring festival-goers from Tampa, she said.