Kentucky Horse Park New Outdoor Stadium Opens

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Kentucky Horse Park's Outdoor Stadium
Kentucky Horse Park's Outdoor Stadium

LEXINGTON , Ky., Apr. 22–The new Outdoor Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park was officially opened Wednesday, a major component of a rebuilding program to prepare for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

The stadium was completed in time for the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event at the end of April, the only four-star event in the Western Hemisphere, as the venue for the dressage and stadium jumping phases.

Outdoor Stadium in use for the first time during dressage at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event
Outdoor Stadium in use for the first time at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event

The $25 million Outdoor Stadium has nearly 7,300 permanent seats (5,173 covered, 150 for disabled), but can be expanded to seat 30,000 for very large shows such as the 2010 WEG.

The stadium’s competition arena is about 390 by 360 feet (119 x 110m).  State-of-the-art footing was provided by the German company OTTO Sport- und Reitplatz GmbH in both the stadium and adjacent warm-up ring, which drains quickly to enhance the safety of horses and riders who will compete in a variety of equestrian disciplines.

The stadium is lighted for night competitions. It includes six restrooms, six concession areas, a hospitality building, and a state-of-the-art LCD Daktronic scoreboard.

It was designed by EOP Architects and constructed by Messer, both of Lexington.

John Nicholson, Executive Director of the park, along with Kentucky Gov. and Mrs. Steven L. Beshear, welcomed a crowd of government officials, business leaders, equestrian and tourism industry representatives, and the public.

Nicholson called the new stadium “an elegant solution to what was a dilemma” because it will be a perfect competitive centerpiece for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, yet be suitable for the dozens of competitions held annually at the Kentucky Horse Park and be expandable for future competitions.

“It is a beautiful site that will witness the crowning of champions yet unborn,” Nicholson said.

“Every citizen of Kentucky can be proud of their Kentucky Horse Park and the influence the new facilities will have in attracting business to our commonwealth,” the governor said. “My administration is working to ensure that Kentucky remains the ‘Horse Capital of the World,’ with all of the benefits that flow through every county as a result.”

Among those at the opening ceremony were Jamie Link, Chief Executive Officer of the World Games 2010 Foundation, Inc. and John Long, CEO of the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility. The park hosted nearly 900,000 visitors and campers, as well as 15,000 competition horses in more than 100 special events and horse shows in 2008. It is home to the National Horse Center which comprises more than 30 national and regional equine organizations, including the USEF, the national governing body of horse sports and the U.S. Dressage Federation.

Kentucky Horse Park Outdoor Stadium
Kentucky Horse Park Outdoor Stadium