How many special events can Sarasota handle?

- Each January, as motorcycles rev up their engines and pull into town, 90,000 people pour into Sarasota for "Thunder by the Bay."

"The people can attend, dine, shop, and look around at the bikes," said Lucy Nicandri.

But the city believes something needs to change.  They have cited complaints from residents and business owners. 

Now city leaders are reviewing options on putting a hold on other special events.

City Manager Tom Barwin says having 100-plus special events each year puts a strain on the growing downtown community.

"There is a tremendous amount of growth and development going on in the city where some of the special events are held. In fact, there is more construction and building going on now and will be occurring over the next couple of years than any point in the history of the city," said Barwin.  "It is just managing the events to facility the health of everyone in the community including the special events whenever they can be accommodated."

Thunder by the Bay organizer Lucy Nicandri partially agrees.

"Can there be too many events? Absolutely," she said.

But after 18 years of raising more than a million dollars for Suncoast Charities for Kids and bringing in a huge economic impact, she said some give and take needs to happen.

"I think they need to be monitored, but I think really events that benefit the local community that have been established and reinvest those revenues right back here in the community should really be looked at closely," she offered.

As for store owners downtown, many say they don't want the change.

"When people come and they are visiting here, they want something to do. A lot of times these events are not only good for the visitors but for the people here," said Ron Soto.

Soto, the head of the downtown merchant association hopes both sides can come up with a compromise.

"It is good for some businesses.  For some, it's not so good.  But a majority of them are for it," he said.

City officials will meet Monday night at 6 p.m. to discuss the issue.

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