Frequently Asked Questions - The Bay Sarasota
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The Bay is a signature, public park along Sarasota Bay. Designed to be “one park for all,” The Bay is open and accessible, free and welcoming to the full and rich diversity of the community, now and for generations to come.

The Bay preserves, restores and transforms 53 acres of precious city-owned land along Sarasota Bay into a blue and green oasis – providing a sustainable bayfront gathering place for the community to experience and enjoy a wide range of park uses, free programs and events.

The first 10-acre phase of the park opened in October 2022. Development of Phase 2, the next 14-acre $65 million development, is underway. The completed park in total will cost an estimated $175-200 million and will take approximately 8-10 years to complete over 4 or more phases.

The Bay is located in downtown Sarasota at 1055 Blvd of the Arts, Sarasota, FL 34236.

There’s so much to enjoy at The Bay every day! Take a walk to be with nature or watch a movie under the stars. Enjoy a free concert in the park or explore Sarasota Bay in a kayak. Get your heart pumping with a free fitness class or get your feet moving at a dance party. Regardless of what interests you… every program, event and activity at The Bay is open and accessible, free and welcoming to all.

  • Click here to plan your visit including information about where to park, eat, restrooms, etc.
  • Click here to view Park Features to learn more about the many special places and spaces in the park.
  • Click here to view the Programs, Activities, and Guides page to learn about all of the FREE offerings at The Bay.
  • Click here to view the current Calendar of Events to get a glimpse of what’s happening in the park.

A park conservancy is a private independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with local government and the public to conserve precious government-owned land as a public park for broad community use. Park conservancies design, plan and develop public parks, co-fund park capital projects and ongoing park operations in partnership with government agencies. In the case of The Bay, The Bay Park Conservancy manages, operates and helps maintain new or existing public parks once they are developed or re-developed.

Park conservancies enter into private/public partnerships with the government to conserve and preserve public land and to provide resources (such as people/talent and funds) to accomplish specific objectives. For example, to create and/or improve public parks or to achieve goals the city or county and community want to achieve but do not have the resources to achieve on their own.

The Bay Park Conservancy (BPC) was formed as a 501c3 not-for-profit organization in 2019 to implement the Master Plan approved by the Sarasota City Commission to conserve 53 acres of public land for a signature park along Sarasota Bay. The BPC entered into a long-term partnership with the City to serve as the exclusive design, planning and development; co-funding (primarily from private sources); and management partner of the City for The Bay Park for the benefit of the community now, and for generations to come.

While the BPC is primarily responsible for design, development and management of the park, the City and BPC share responsibility for funding, infrastructure and maintenance. The City retains ultimate decision rights over a public park on city land.

In October 2022, Phase 1 of The Bay officially opened to over 50,000 park guests during the 10 Days at The Bay Grand Opening. The first phase, which had been in construction since 2019, includes more than 14 acres of revitalized greenspace, a larger-than-life Ibis playground, Common Ground lawns, the Mangrove Bayou Walkway, an outdoor Reading Room, an ADA-accessible paddle launch, restored and preserved mangroves and shorelines, with spectacular sunset views.

For more information about current park features at The Bay, click here.

Design and development of “more park for all” is underway. Phase 2, the next 14-acre $65 million development, continues the “ring” – a continuous loop of park green space – around the site including the western edge of Phase 1 and up along the Sarasota Bay, across 10th Street, and the North Tamiami Trail frontage along the eastern edge of the park. Construction should be completed by the end of 2026.

Phase 2 projects include:

  • Cultural District: including a tree-lined Promenade and a Town Square gathering place.
  • Enhanced Canal District: including the addition of day docks and a reconstructed seawall.
  • Resilient Shoreline: including restored coastlines and wonderful bayfront walkways and overlooks.
  • Sunset Pier: including over-water access to the magnificent views of Sarasota Bay and spectacular sunsets.

For more information about Phase 2 plans, click here.

The Bay is funded through a combination of individual donor contributions, philanthropic foundations and government sources. Thanks to generous supporters, The Bay is on track to fund continued development of future park phases as well as ongoing park operations, maintenance and programming.

Funding from private philanthropy comes from three main sources: leadership gifts from individuals and foundations, the Business Partners of The Bay program which enables FREE park programming, and the annual Friends of The Bay and bi-annual Giving Challenge fundraising campaigns.

In total, the completed park will cost an estimated $175-200 million and will take approximately 8-10 years to complete over 4 or more phases. Phase 1, which opened in October 2022, cost ~$35 million. Phase 2 is projected to cost $65 million – with $48 million in funding coming from a TIF-backed City of Sarasota bond and the remaining $17 million from government grants.

For more information click here to see the most recent Annual Report.

Note: the above does not include any cost estimate for a new performing arts center, which is being managed separately by the City of Sarasota and the Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation.

In 2019, the City of Sarasota and The Bay Park Conservancy (BPC) entered into a long-term partnership agreement. This public-private Partnership Agreement (the first of its kind in Sarasota) designates the BPC as the exclusive design, planning and development; co-funding (primarily from private sources); and management partner of the City for The Bay – a new public park on 53 acres of precious city-owned land along Sarasota Bay for the benefit of everyone in the community. The city commission approved the long-term partnership agreement unanimously in April 2019. The agreement took effect in May 2019.

This partnership agreement identified the roles and responsibilities of the City and The Bay Park Conservancy.

In November 2021, the Sarasota City Commission approved the Second Amendment to the Long-Term Partnership Agreement between the City of Sarasota and The Bay Park Conservancy which enables The Bay Park to be built in 10 vs. 15 years and will save at least $15-20 million in capital costs and $5-10 million in operating costs. The Second Amendment combined ALL agreements between the City and BPC into one Long-Term Partnership Agreement, including: the basic agreement, BPC Guiding Principles, the Bay Park Master Plan, the Implementation Agreement for managing the park, and the Conflict of Interest and Naming Rights Policies.

A Master Plan is a conceptual design that shows a plan of possible uses by park guests. The original Master Plan for the 53-acre site known as The Bay was unanimously approved the Sarasota City Commission in September 2018. An updated Master Plan reflecting additional learning and community feedback was approved by the City Commission in November 2023.

A Site Plan is a detailed and technical design document for a specific area of the park that is adopted by the City.

The Bay Park Conservancy is focused on planning, designing, building and managing a signature park on Sarasota Bay.

The Bay Park Conservancy’s responsibility is to implement The Bay park in accordance with the Guiding Principles, Master Plan and long-term Partnership Agreement which were all approved by the City of Sarasota after extensive community outreach and input.

Any decision regarding the existing Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, or consideration of a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center, is exclusively a City of Sarasota decision.

There are many ways to get involved with The Bay:

  • Sign up for The Bay newsletter to stay up to date on programs, activities and events happening at the park, as well as updates about the continued transformation of parking lot into even more park.
  • Attend a free event at The Bay! Visit the Programs, Activities & Guides page to learn more about what is offered at the park.
  • Become a Volunteer at the park (Click here)
  • Become a Friend of The Bay by making a donation today! Many ways to contribute are available (Click here)
  • Become a Business Partner to support and enable FREE park programming (Click here)
  • Follow The Bay (@TheBaySarasota) on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Ask a question about The Bay (Click here)

Yes and no.

In order to keep the park open and accessible to all, areas in Phase 1 of the park are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are not available for reservations or rentals. In addition, a variety of free and open-to-all activities and events are scheduled in different places and spaces at The Bay which take priority and may temporarily reduce the availability of some park areas. Click here to see Calendar of Events.

There are a number of other indoor and outdoor venues available on the site to rent including: the Sarasota Garden Club, the Bayfront Community Center and the outdoor Civic Green lawns.

To fill out a venue rental request, please visit this link.

There are many opportunities at The Bay for a wide variety of services, programs and interests. If interested, please click on this link to fill out the Partner Provider Interest Form. If you have a Food Truck and would be interested in serving at The Bay, please fill out the Food Truck Application Form.

Want to Stay in the Loop?

Sign up for The Bay Newsletter to stay up to date on programs, activities and events happening at The Bay, as well as updates about the continued transformation of parking lot into even more park. Delivered weekly to your inbox.

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