After close call, Dad Vail underway in Philly

Friday, May 07, 2010

Rowers started hitting the Schuylkill River on Friday for the newly-branded Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta.

Qualifying rounds begin out on the river at 7:00 a.m. and, along the way, corporate tents could be seen along Kelly Drive.

Of course, this event nearly didn't happen in Philadelphia. Back in November, organizers said they were leaving for New Jersey. Now the race is back with corporate sponsorship.

RELATED LINK: Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta website

The financially strapped regatta was lured north by a $250,000 offer from Rumson, New Jersey. The regatta was gone, but then disappointed and angry city leaders went to work and convinced the Dad Vail to stay.

"Once you lose your traditions, you lose your identity," said Rep. Bob Brady (D-Philadelphia). We might as well sell our cheesesteaks, let the soft pretzels go somewhere. You can't do that." "We anticipate having hundreds of people here, supporters, alumni, to come down here and support the Drexel crew," said John Tomsich of Drexel. "And I know that, if it was in a different city, we wouldn't have the same kind of support and it wouldn't be a great event."

Last month, Mayor Michael Nutter announced that the event got the corporate sponsor it needed. Aberdeen Asset Management will sponsor the country's biggest rowing event for at least the next four years. Starting in 2011, Coca-Cola will become a second sponsor.

Rowers from more than 100 schools from across the country will row the Schuylkill River.

"I was here last year and I wouldn't really have wanted it to move anywhere," said rower Alexander Fegley of Lehigh University. "It's one of the best racing experiences we have all season."

Some 30,000 spectators and participants are expected to converge on the City of Philadelphia for the event.

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