Capital Campaign

Dear Friends of Rowing,

Rowing is growing! It is growing around the world, around the country, and especially in Mercer County, New Jersey.

Finn Caspersen had a vision to create a world-class home for rowing on Mercer Lake, and the original boathouse facilities were built through his efforts. Tim Hosea shared Finn’s dream and continued to guide it to reality. During Tim’s tenure as president of PNRA, the Caspersen Rowing Center became an Olympic Training Center and home to the United States National Teams; the Mercer Junior Rowing Club grew from 20 to over 190 junior rowers; our Learn to Row camps and classes have taught hundreds of people of all ages to row; and high school kids from Trenton began to discover the benefits of rowing. Major events hosted by PNRA grew to have a local economic impact of over $10 million.

But Finn and Tim’s dream of a world-class facility is not complete, and it is time to take the next step. With Tim’s direction the foundation was laid to expand the facilities at the Caspersen Rowing Center, to recognize the rich history of our nation’s oldest sport and to build on this history in developing the next generations who realize the team spirit, fitness and discipline that rowing builds. The expansion will add the indoor workout, locker rooms and sports medicine capacity required for our teams to compete at the top national and international levels;  meeting rooms; boat repair facilities; and additional boat storage space.

With this expansion, we will take the next important step in realizing Finn and Tim’s dream.  I invite you to be a part of that dream.

Kris Grudt
Executive Director
Princeton National Rowing Association (PNRA)

Purpose and Statement of Need

The proposed $5.0 million annex will add 14,000 square feet to the existing facility to better support the growth of the Mercer Rowing Programs and other public programs for students in grades 7-12, serve the training needs of the U.S. National Team,  broaden the scope of the Rowing Is Growing outreach program for students in the Trenton public schools, and meet the needs of local collegiate and adult rowers.

Partial funding will be from public and private sources.  PNRA expects to break ground in 2021 with a completion expected by mid-2022.

A few facts:

  • More than 190 junior athletes participated in the 2018-2019 MJRC season, their numbers limited only by the capacity of the existing boathouse.
  • 98% of MJRC graduates go on to college; 75% continue to row on college teams.
  • Since 2001 all of the U.S. Olympic and National Team athletes have trained or been selected at the Caspersen Rowing Center.
  • Beginning in 2014, PNRA is partnering with Special Olympics to train its athletes and host the indoor rowing event.
  • Each year PNRA introduces students at Trenton Central High School to indoor rowing.
  • Over 200 Juniors learned to row through the Novice Learn to Row Summer Camps.
  •  PNRA has partnered with the area YMCA’s and the Mercer County Park Commission to introduce economically disadvantaged youth to swimming and rowing through the Swim to Row Program.
  • Mercer Masters programs offer competitive as well as fitness/recreational options to adult members of the community
  •  PNRA’s Adult Summer Rowing League has introduced or reintroduced adults to rowing in a fun supportive environment.

With growing interest in the sport and the recognition of its advantages for developing mental and physical strength and endurance, the Caspersen Rowing Center no longer meets the needs of the constituents who use it on a year-round basis. Each winter, PNRA must turn away 100 junior rowers for lack of indoor workout space. Similarly, limited indoor facilities compel the National Team to find training options off-site. The potential for RIG as a vehicle for raising the fitness and achievement levels of students in the Trenton public schools is curtailed by the limitations of the boathouse.

Further, incorporating popular public programs and high-profile rowing entities under one roof will enable PNRA to continue to attract major events to Mercer Lake, with a proven benefit to local communities and businesses. According to an economic impact study performed by PNRA and the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, PNRA’s regattas contributed nearly $11 million in sales, 5,600 jobs, and $440,000 in tax revenue to the local economy in 2014 alone. PNRA regattas drew more than 75,000 athletes and spectators to Mercer County Park in the year.

“If your criteria for choosing a team sport values above all the work that it takes to excel in it, and the disciplines and virtues that attach to that sort of activity, and absolute trust and dependence upon your teammates, and how it can provide, more than any other sport, the ideal training and testing ground for life’s challenges, you cannot beat rowing.”

                                                                                                          Tom Weil, Rowing Historian


Addressing the Needs

  • New Wing and lobby: Plans call for the 14,000-square-foot Annex to include an expanded training facilities, accommodating over 68 rowing machines and convertible to multi-purpose space; weight room; physical therapy room; area athletes between practices; fully-equipped locker rooms for men, women and ADA/unisex; heated repair shop; conference space and additional public rest room facilities.
  • Parking: Already inadequate on a daily basis and a safety hazzard, the traffic flows will be realigned and additional parking will accommodate 128 cars plus an 80-vehicle overflow.
  • Indoor Training/Multiuse Room: The new training room will add 68 rowing machines to the 34 now available, enabling the National Teams to train on-site and providing adequate facilities to accommodate the growth of the juniors, Masters and RIG outreach programs. The training room will be readily convertible to meeting space for receptions, banquets, workshops and conferences, creating an additional source of funds to support the day-to-day operations of the Rowing Center.
  • Indoor Training/Weight Room: Indoor workout space is always at a premium, especially in the off-season and in inclement weather. Access to an area for stretching and cooling down is critical for the development of rowers, as it will enhance muscle conditioning. As a “power-endurance” sport, rowing requires highly specialized weight training. With a focus on free weights, the weight room will be designed to accommodate the very specific strength training needs of rowers.
  • Conference Center/Meeting Room: Space that can be used flexibly to answer a number of needs is one of the biggest requests of any facilities. The Conference Center/Meeting Room takes a strong step to address this need at the Caspersen Rowing Center. It provides the opportunity for teams to meet to review a work out, host parents meetings without having to interfere with workouts or to conduct Coaching Symposiums at a site with all of the tools to effectively provide a positive educational environment. It will also be flexible enough for team stretching or a yoga session for athletes. This space will also allow for the hosting for other groups for their meeting needs.
  • Physical Therapy Room: Injuries and strains do occur, particularly among the most competitive athletes. The physiotherapy room will be outfitted with an EMS/ultrasound machine, hydrocollator, ice bath/whirlpool, and standard and hi-lo treatment tables.
  • Locker Rooms (2,400 ft.): New locker rooms with shower facilities will accommodate 50 men and 50 women. The Annex will also include new locker which are unisex ADA compliant .
  • Entrance and Kitchen: Expanding our facility requires expanding the services we provide our athletes and guests. Athletes need a space for “down” time between practices to rest and recuperate. Juniors need an area to do homework while waiting for practice. The availability of reception space in the new indoor training room also requires corresponding simple kitchen facilities.
  • Heated Repair Shop (1,800 ft.): This is a critical need. The winter months present an ideal time to address repairs and recondition crew shells. Diligent maintenance not only improves the competitiveness of the rowers, but it also helps to ensure their safety.
 Joining Our Team

If you are interested in joining our team to make the dream of creating America’s Epicenter of Rowing at the Caspersen Rowing Center, please contact PNRA’s Executive Director Kristopher Grudt at 609-977-1094 or