World Class Dressage Stadium with Most Prize Money in History Planned for Palm Beach in 2012

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Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 10–A dressage complex of a showcase stadium and covered arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center that will rank it among the top venues in the world, will be announced Thursday, with the inaugural 2012 winter series of international competitions offering prize money that may be the largest in history.

Creation of the dressage complex will be announced by Mark Bellissimo, chief executive of Equestrian Sport Productions that is owned by Wellington Equestrian Partners of which he is one of the founders. in unveiling Phase II of development of PBIEC as a premier global equestrian lifestyle destination.

Robert Dover, the six-time U.S. Olympian, who is actively involved in the project will announce that he is leading a drive to raise $1 million (€720,000) in prize money for international competitions at the new venue, making it by far the richest dressage event at a single venue in history.

Since the PBIEC main show grounds of more than 80 acres (32ha) was acquired by the partnership before the 2008 Winter Equestrian Festival, more than $20 million (€14.4 million) has been spent upgrading the facility to one of the best in the world with world class footing in all 12 competition arenas and adjoining warm-up rings.

The unveiling of plans for the Stadium and its 57 acres (23ha) on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Pierson Road that are part of PBIEC will be at 5 pm ET Thursday at the PBIEC Wellington Club.

The dressage facility is a key element in Phase II that also includes a 100-room 5-Star resort hotel and spa, condominiums, a retail and bistro plaza of 40,000 to 50,000 square feet (3,700 to 4,600 sqm) that will include a courtyard arena to be used for entertainment events such as dressage after dark, and the grass jumping derby field.

The uniquely Palm Beach appearance of the facility that is part of the PBIEC complex will, organizers hope, become like the main show grounds that draws thousands of spectators–many of them non-equestrians–every week to its party time Saturday Night Under the Stars.

A sneak preview–the drawings not for publication in advance–by dressage-news.com of the plans for Phase II showed these highlight elements for dressage:

* A main stadium arena about 120 meters long by 120 meters wide so it can also be used for jumping, plus a full size warm-up arena;

* Two additional outdoor competition arenas and a full size warm-up arena;

* A VIP club area capable of hosting 800 spectators at tables, similar to the International Club at PBIEC, and built on a berm overlooking the stadium arena;

* About 2,000 stadium-style seats on three sides of the stadium competition arena and covered by retractable awnings to protect spectators from rain and direct sun;

* A covered arena large enough to hold both dressage and jumping competitions with spectator seating;

* Permanent stabling for 200 horses that can be expanded to stabling for 400 horses by modular panels, and

* A cross-country training track of 9/10ths of a mile (1.45km) on the outskirts of the facility for the growing number of event riders who train in dressage and jumping in Wellington over the winter.

Access to the facility will be by a tree-lined driveway for spectators off South Shore Boulevard and a separate entrance off Pierson Road for horse trailers and participants.

The resort and spa are planned for the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Pierson Road while the retail and restaurant/bistro area will face South Shore Boulevard.

The dressage facility will be for an area between the grass derby field and a giant flagpole near Pierson Road.

Tentative plans provide for parking on what is at present a stick and ball polo field adjoining the dressage area and the derby field.

To help with planning of the Stadium project, Wellington Equestrian Partners hired the architectural firm that designed Fisher Island, one of the world’s premier resorts on Biscayne Bay in Miami.

Mark Bellissimo told dressage-news.com that most of the dressage facility can be ready for the 2012 winter circuit.

“We have a lot of experience and knowledge from the past three years of developing the main show grounds that we can apply to this project,” he said.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to revolutionize dressage by providing the best possible facility and environment and prize money that is unprecedented.”

Equestrian Sport Productions have three dates authorizing sanctioned competitions over the winter period of January to March which can be used for top international competitions to attract riders from Europe as well as from across the Americas.

In addition to his active involvement in the core competitions, Robert Dover also plans to host special events such as youth horsemastership symposiums at the venue.