WEG Ticket Sales Top 300,000 With Seven Weeks to Go

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Kentucky Horse Park Main Stadium, the centerpiece of WEG competition. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kentucky Horse Park Main Stadium, the centerpiece of WEG competition. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Sales of tickets for the World Equestrian Games i Kentucky “have topped” 300,000–about half the total number available–less than seven weeks from the opening ceremony of the global championships for horse sports being held for the first time outside Europe.

“Ticket sales have topped 300,000, and we have seen an increased interest in the Games as they near,” said a spokesperson for the WEG Foundation that is organizing the championships of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining, vaulting and para-equestrian in Lexington from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10.

Sales of tickets for one day recently totaled $250,000 (€189,000), the spokesperson reported.

In response to lagging ticket sales, WEG announced in mid-July cuts of 30 per cent in many ticket prices. Reduced prices run through Labor Day, Sept. 6.

At full price, many WEG tickets are about double the price of tickets at the previous WEG in Aachen, Germany. Kentucky organizer split several competitions into two sessions per day–team dressage, for example, with two sessions per day for each of two days–requiring separate tickets for each session at about the same price as an all-day ticket at Aachen.

Within the United States, the greatest number of tickets have been sold in Kentucky, California, Ohio, Texas and Florida.

Top ticket purchasers outside the U.S. are Canada, Australia, England, South Africa and Mexico. The relative decline in the value of the Euro against the U.S. dollar–€1 buys about US$1.32 at the current rate, compared with a peak of more than US$1.50–is thought to have impacted sales to the Eurozone of continental Europe.

Held once every four years since the first WEG in 1990, the cost of the biggest airlift of horses in history has led to a handful of nations not participating or reducing their squads. The national federations who field the teams in some cases have also asked riders to pick up all or part of the tab.

Hotel prices during WEG have been widely criticized both within and outside the United States.

A lengthy list of hotels with accommodations available for WEG that included the nightly room rates available through WEG Housing was recently distributed by WEG to show plenty of rooms still available.

Dressage-news.com researched on their Internet sites several of the hotels at random in different price ranges for a comparison of prices during WEG as provided by WEG and non-WEG pricing, the lowest rates available seven days (Monday. Oct. 18) after WEG. The findings:

Red Roof Inn North WEG $150 – Standard rate $54.99
Regency Best Western/Lexington Conference Center $249 – $72/$85
Days Inn and Suites Lexington Downtown $250 – $60
Ramada Conference Center of Lexington $259 – $72.24
Country Inn and Suites Lexington $325 – $82.46
Four Points Sheraton $399 (their site says rooms are available directly from them from $289 per night) – $89
Hyatt Regency Lexington $475 – $199

Taxes of about 13.4 per cent are additional in all prices.