Bidding to Host 2018 World Equestrian Games Reopened, Canada as Sole Bidder to Stay In

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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Bidding for the 2018 World Equestrian Games has been reopened by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) that said Monday it has asked Canada to stay in the contest to host the global championships of the seven disciplines after Bromont/Montreal was left as the sole bidder.

The Bromont/Montreal bid committee was unable to provide the full public sector financial support the Lausanne, Switzerland-based FEI said it required before allocating the WEG.

Reopening the bidding means that end of more than two years of efforts that initially led to eight cities expressing interest, five submitting formal bids then Wellington, Florida, Vienna, Budapest and Rabat,Morocco all dropping out leaving Bromont as the sole bidder.

“There had been an expectation that the FEI Bureau would allocate the 2018 Games to Bromont/Montreal today following the Bid Committee’s strong presentation to the Bureau,” the FEI said in a statement, adding, “but the Canadian delegation was unable to provide the full public sector financial support that was required before an allocation could be made.

“The Bromont/Montreal bid was very impressive on all technical aspects and it is hugely disappointing, both for the bid team and for the FEI, that the Bureau was unable to allocate the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 today,” FEI President Princess Haya said, “but unfortunately, without the necessary financial support, the FEI and the organizers would be exposed to an unacceptable financial risk.

“In these circumstances, re-opening the bidding process was clearly the only option open to us, but we are very hopeful that Bromont/Montreal will be a part of that new bidding process.”

Princess Haya, president of the FEI.  File photo
Princess Haya, president of the FEI. File photo

“We are of course extremely disappointed by today’s decision by the FEI Bureau not to allocate the 2018 Games to Canada, but despite our best efforts, we were unable to put the full financial support in place in time,” Bromont Bid Committee President Paul Côté said. “We obviously respect the FEI Bureau’s decision completely, and we will continue our efforts to secure the financial backing we need. We now need to redouble our efforts with our federal and provincial government partners. We have a very strong bid and we are confident that we can stage a wonderful FEI World Equestrian Games in Bromont.”

This is the second FEI championship bid that has fallen through this year–Guadalajara, Mexico was awarded the 2015 World Cup Final which would have been a first for any American city aside from any in the United States and had hosted the successful 2011 Pan American Games, the second largest multisport event in the would aside from the Olympics.

The World Cup bidder could not meet FEI requirements and the governing body of horse sports has gone back to Las Vegas which initially lost out on the 2015 bid to try to get the organizers of the 2005, 2007 and 2009 dressage and jumping finals to host it in 2015.

Coincidentally, Toronto, Canada will host the 2015 Pan American Games that includes the three Olympic sports of dressage, eventing and jumping, which is a qualifying championship for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilian city won its bid to host the 2016 Olympics based on hosting the 2011 Pan Ams and the equestrian facilities for those Games will be used in the 2016 Olympics.

A factor complicating the FEI’s global politics is the poorly kept secret of behind-the-scenes maneuvering to change the charter of the organization to allow the president, in this case Princess Haya, to run for more than the two four-year terms currently allowed. The FEI Bureau gets the final say on the agenda for the FEI General Assembly in November that requires a two-thirds majority to change the charter.

Princess Haya, sources report, can count on support from Asia, Africa and the Middle East but a bloc either of Europe or all of the Americas would be required to insure that majority. The United States was among a handful of nations that voted for her opponent in the last presidential ballot.

The princess’s aspirations are reported by sources within the FEI to have played a role in proposals to reduce Pan Am Games dressage and eventing qualifying for the Oympics to one nation from two, but increase qualification at the 2014 WEG to four from three that could improve European prospects.

The World Equestrian Games was inaugurated in 1990 and has grown to include the world championships of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining, vaulting and para-equestrian. However, most of the championships held once every four years have been fraught with difficulties.

Den Haag in the Netherlands in 1994 proved to be a financial catastrophe; Rome stepped in at the 11th hour to stage the 1998 WEG when Ireland lost its prime sponsor; Jerez, Spain saddled its taxpayers with longterm financial obligations incurred by the WEG in 2002; Lexington, Kentucky’s horse park was rebuilt at huge cost but extortionate prices for event tickets and hotels are still talked about around the world as outrageous ripoffs and the management itself was saved from disaster by a mid-Games infusion of cash from prime sponsor Alltech. Aachen, Germany in 2006 was an outstanding success that has led to many calls for that venue and its top flight management to be the permanent host of WEG.

The verdict on Normandy, France won’t be rendered until after the Games in the summer of 2014 but Alltech is again the prime sponsor.

The FEI said that all National Federations that submitted signed Expression of Interest documents prior to the November, 2011 deadline for the first phase of the bidding process were informed that solid financial support to cover the cost of staging the event was a key requirement.

The bidding process for the 2018 WEG will now be re-opened and the Bromont/Montreal bid team has confirmed that it will participate.

However, the FEI Bureau said, “Providing the Bromont/Montreal bid team can secure the required financial support, the Canadian bid will be evaluated in the same way as other applicants that come forward.

The delegation that presented the official Bromont and Montreal bid book to the FEI Bureau was led by Paul Côté, President of the Bromont Bid Committee. The team also included the President of Equine Canada Mike Gallagher; Equine Canada CEO Jean Christophe Gandubert; President of Bromont International Roger Deslauriers; technical advisor Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela; Bromont Bid Director Benoit Girardin and Rene Perreault, representing the Bromont property developers.