Proposed Palm Beach Dressage Complex Wins Early Backing, Expanded CDI Competition Schedule Sought

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Planned Stadium complex

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 17–Several prospective sponsors offered financial support to kick start development of a new dressage stadium complex at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Organizers announced applications for additional international competitions, including the first dressage Nations Cup in the Western Hemisphere, to be ready for the 2012 winter circuit.

Support for the dressage complex of six arenas, including a centerpiece stadium with extensive spectator seating and a covered arena was widespread at an open meeting of 200 people to discuss the project as a central part of Phase II of developing PBIEC. The plans call for construction of a dressage facility alongside an existing grass jumping derby field, a five-star condominium hotel and spa and retail and restaurant plaza.

The complex is planned for the former Palm Beach Polo Stadium that is now part of PBIEC which hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival now in the 10th of 12 weeks of competition that makes it the longest running horse show in the world and typically has more than 2,000 horses per week entered in competitions in 12 arenas.

The entire complex of about 150 acres (60 ha) is owned by Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP) that has spent $250 million acquiring hundreds of acres of property within Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve to maintain the show grounds as central to the community and to develop equestrian farms.

Mark Bellissimo, WEP chief executive, said that $25 million has been spent upgrading the existing showgrounds they acquired three years ago for hunter-jumper competitions, and millions more have been earmarked for the Phase II development. Phase III calls for the construction of an indoor arena capable of hosting a World Cup Final by 2015 with at least 5,000 spectators.

Mark displayed renderings of Phase II that have been reported and can be seen on by clicking dressage-news.com.

The project calls for a stadium with covered seating and a VIP hospitality club, which he called more “intimate” than the centerpiece International Arena at the main show grounds. Permanent stabling for 400 horses and a covered arena are also planned.

The meeting was presented with a provisional calendar for 2011 that includes three competition dates assigned to Equestrian Sport Productions that manages the shows for WEP–Feb. 3-5, Feb. 17-19 and Mar. 16-18.

Applications have been made to the U.S. Equestrian Federation to designate the competitions CDIs.

ESP has also applied to host four other CDI competitions–Jan. 13-15 Jan. 27-29, Feb. 25-27 and Mar. 30-April 1.

CDI competitions are not subject to so-called mileage rules that provide for a buffer of 75 miles between national competitions licensed by the USEF.

Robert Dover, who is spearheading support for the new facility, said the goal is create a series of competitions comprising three CDI World Cup qualifiers, a CDI4* or 5* and an annual CDIO Nations Cup.

“My goal to raise $1,000.000 (€710,000) to stage the competitions and offer a minimum of $500,000 (€355,000) in prize money with a $250,000 (€177,600) bonus for a horse and rider competitions winning all five CDIs, though details of the bonus are still being worked out.

To kick start the dressage section of the complex, Wellington Equestrian Realty pledged $50,000, Arlene and David Page’s Stillpoint Farm $25,000 and Victoria McCullough, a sponsor of the Global Champions Tour, promised financial support.

Several other individuals and dressage barn owners in Wellington were discussing with ESP financial support.

“If we can get an initial core of financial supporters,” Mark Bellissimo said, “we will break ground the next week.”

More than a dozen reservations have been made for condominiums at the condo hotel, including several by Europeans and Latin Americans involved in equestrian activities,