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Regatta Festival brings big bucks to OKC

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The eighth annual Oklahoma Regatta Festival got underway Thursday night on the Oklahoma River.

The event has grown each year, thanks to a steady stream of investors including the City of Oklahoma City.

Thousands of watersport enthusiasts flock to the Oklahoma River each year for the festival from around the world.

This year features athletes from Mexico, Canada and dozens of universities from coast to coast in the U.S.

"A lot of universities are coming this year who have never come before because they have heard about the venue. Once again everyone is excited about the night racing." Mike Knopp said, Oklahoma City Boathouse District.

The investment on the riverfront continues with millions of dollars from MAPS 3, including improvements to the course, a track for competition cameras, grandstands, trails and eventually a youth pavilion.

"The investment from the city means trails are open for cyclists and runners," Shawn Caven said, Oklahoma City University Canoe Kayak head coach. "It's a nicer environment down here than it ever used to be so I think people need to check it out. I think they'd be impressed." 

The Oklahoma Regatta Festival has grown from a few tents pitched on the Oklahoma River to a major collegiate and international event highlighting a serious investment Oklahoma City has made in the downtown waterway.

According to the Oklahoma City Visitors Bureau, those investments will pay off in the form of a $1 million economic boost this weekend.

The OCVB estimates athletes and attenders will spend between $750,000 and $1 million just this weekend.

"We think the festival really does provide a nice impact," Knopp said. "It's just another sign of how the river is really contributing and making an impact on the city." 

Here's more information on the OKC Boathouse District.

Here's a schedule of events for the Regatta Festival.