Manatee-Sarasota success with sports facilities spurs regional competition, imitation

UNIVERSITY PARK — Liz Hartman is the kind of visitor who the new multi-sports center at Nathan Benderson Park hopes to attract: She drove 34 hours from Colorado this weekend to attend a rowing event in which her daughter was competing.

Hartman has been to eight or nine regattas this year, including those at San Diego, Calif., Nashville, Tenn., and Philadelphia, to watch daughter Ellie, 20, row with the Barry University team from Miami Shores.

Typically, Hartman said she spends a couple of thousand dollars each time, including such things as airline fares, hotel, restaurant and entertainment expenses, she said Friday.

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aerial shot of Nathan Benderson Park