Chicago Rowing Development

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Rowing in Chicago

Boathouse Services



Chicago Rowing Development

The Rowing Group is dedicated to the development of the sport of rowing in Chicago. We are the best qualified group to work with in Chicago when it comes to river access, Chicago River Boathouses, and starting new rowing programs. We have the hands on experience needed to make well informed decisions about sports that are new to a lot of people. For more information, contact us at, or call us at 773.354.6311.

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.”
- Daniel Burnham
Chicago River Boatclub Logo
Chicago Rowing logo modeled after the Leander Boat Club logo as inspiration. The grey wolf is a reference to the confluence of the Chicago River at Wolf Point.

Project History

Date Work Description Groups Involved Overall Results
2012 to present Chicago Composite Initiative - link to more information FiberWorks, Rowing Group, ShadowCraft, local elected leaders and affiliated industry. Remarkable progress accomplished and on horizon.
2009 to present Develop a comprehensive, academic level history of Chicago rowing. Rowing Group (Mark Carroll) and partner researchers. Still in development.
January 27, 2014 Mark Carroll's application to run for facilities director at the Lincoln Park Boat Club - read it here Lincoln Park Boat Club and membership. Unsuccessful campaign.
November 7, 2013

Letter of support for Blue Island to study the feasibility of an Intercollegiate Rowing Center and Marina at Fay's Point - read it here

Blue Island, State of Illinois, numerous community partners. $40,000 feasibility grant awarded.
August 21, 2013

Proposal to develop Rowing Events for NCSA Athletic Recruiting - read it here

Rowing Group and NCSA Athletic Recruiting. Submitted for consideration.
December 18, 2012

The Rowing Group Open Letter to the Membership at the Lincoln Park Boat Club - Link to the Open Letter

Lincoln Park Boat Club membership. Faithfully delivered.

September 10, 2012

The Rowing Group Proposal for Chicago Park District Rowing Boathouses on the Chicago River - Link to Rowing Group Proposal

Chicago Park District, Rowing Group, Park Concessions Management Unsuccessful. CPD nor PCM allowed me to do establish a rowing business based on this application.
August 15, 2012
The Rowing Group Releases Lake Calumet 2000m Rowing and Paddling Race Course Concept - Read more about the race course Rowing Group, Port District of Illinois, IDNR, affiliated partners. Still in development.
May 9, 2012

North Branch Rowing Location Summary for the Clark Park Advisory Council.

Clark Park Advisory Council, the Chicago Park District and the Rowing Group. Faithfully delivered.
October 31, 2012 Letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel - read it here Mark Carroll and the Office of the Mayor Faithfully delivered.
Winter 2011

Chicago Alternative Sport concept.

Presented to the Chicago Park District Still in development.
December 14, 2011 to June 2012 Creation of a Chicago River Boathouse Advisory Committee to communicate ideas and concerns regarding the development of the Clark Park rowing boathouse. Rowing Group (Mark Carroll), various members of the Chicago rowing community, and the Chicago Park District. Unsuccessful. The Rowing Group had no impact on the development of the Clark Park boathouse. Chicago Park District was generally unresponsive and did not make an effort to engage the general public in the development of the Clark Park boathouse.

Rowers and Paddlers in Chicago, 1923
Rowing and Paddling in Chicago in 1923

This is Chicago's River Renaissance.  Rowing has been a competitive sport for centuries.  It was one of the original sports in the first modern Olympic Games, it was the first intercollegiate sport in the United States, and it is easily one of the fastest growing sports in Chicago today. In the past few decades, the sport has evolved beyond a stereotypically marked endeavor of stuffy New England universities.  Rowing has developed into a multimillion dollar industry that has a diverse following and whose participants come from, quite literally, every segment of society.

Around the country and in locations throughout Europe, rowing clubs have proven to be a positive investment, both for the community and for the investors in the clubs. Rowing clubs have evolved from a shipping container in a fenced-in gravel parking lot, to multimillion dollar developments that act as the cornerstone of a community river revival.  Rowing generates consistent, predictable, and reliable returns. Rowing clubs have become an asset and a product that can be easily modified to work virtually anywhere, but work best when they find their roots in a location already comfortable with the sport. Coupled with the size and diversity, a location like the City of Chicago is fertile ground for rapid expansion of rowing, and can reach an untapped market of customers that no other competitive sport can.

The Chicago rowing and paddling communities are a fast growing, active and valuable segment of the outdoor lifestyle market. Rowing in Chicago has grown significantly in the last decade, in line with the historic growth of rowing across the East Coast of the United States. Rowing has become a proven, profitable business that can be easily expanded in Chicago. Paddling is also a fast growing sport, with tour and rental companies already starting on the Chicago River and on Lake Michigan.

Priorities of a Chicago River Boathouse

  • Job creation for residents of the immediate community around the boathouse and job creation for younger, more recent college graduates from the area with a competitive rowing or paddling background.
  • River access for the local community.
  • Helping to protect and clean-up the Chicago River, both by advocating for the improvement of water conditions as well as leading by example, reducing the potential impact the club would have on the environment.

Contact us if you would like to get involved or are interested in
investing in a private Chicago River Boathouse.

Rowing Group Chicago River Boathouse Influences

1x on the Chicago River
Sculler on the back-end of Goose Island on the Chicago River



Chicago Boathouse Design from 1903
Chicago Boathouse Design from 1903

Leander Club
Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom

The definition of proper rowing club, one of the oldest and most accomplished clubs in the world, founded in 1818.  Opulent in its presentation, extremely focused on the competitive and successful accomplishments of its members.  All funds generated by the club go directly to fund the competitive teams at Leander.  More Olympians and World Champions have come from Leander than any other club in the world.  

Saugatuck Rowing Club
Westport, Connecticut

Redefining what rowing should be in the United States, Saugatuck is the quintessential modern New England rowing club.  Offering top of the line amenities to its members, Saugatuck caters to its members in a way known only to clubs on the Thames in England.  Operated by RowAmerica, a rowing organization that sells rowing boats, coaching, and virtually anything you would need in rowing.

Florence Rowing Club
Florence, Italy

A spectacular club located in the heart of Florence, along the Arno river, in the shadow of the Ponte Vecchio.  The club, founded in 1886, is located directly under the Uffizi Gallery, and offers members rowing facilities with indoor rowing tanks, gym, boat storage, restaurant/bar and cafe, outdoor lounge area directly on the banks on the river, as well as all the amenities of a private club.  

The club also rents their facility to the public for private events.  Wedding receptions, gala dinners, and parties are held frequently at the club.  It is one of the most unique clubs in the world. It combines old world charm and tradition with a modern professionalism and service, something expected by the rowing and paddling communities.

Community Rowing, Inc.
Boston, Massachusetts

Perfected example of a true community rowing club.  CRI has defined what a club can be by offering adaptive, competitive, and outreach rowing to the community while continuing to develop its core membership of high school and college programs. CRI was at the forefront of developing the modern boat club, capitalizing on the rapid growth of the sport of rowing in the United States.


Rowing Group - 2014