Omaha, From World Cup in 2017 to World Games in 2022? Part 2 of 2
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
OMAHA, Nebraska, May 12, 2016–While preparing for its first international horse sport championship, the 2017 the World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping, the organizers are considering a bid for the 2022 World Equestrian Games for this American Midwestern city.
Pretty much all what’s needed is already in place within a few city blocks to showcase the seven horse sports and para-equestrian for the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) event held once every four years. State-of-the art show facilities with no construction projects required that take a generation of taxpayer funding, no shortage of hotel rooms and unlike some of the top World Games-ready venues no title sponsorship conflicts.
Lisa Roskens, the dynamic business executive who turned her passion for jumping into bringing the dual World Cup Finals in 2017 to a city few had heard of, told dressage-news.com she’s weighing a bid for the 2022 World Games.
Although everything could be physically ready for 2018 if the effort in Bromont. Canada moves beyond faltering to failure and set up a situation similar to 1998 when the WEG was moved to Rome from Dublin after the prime sponsor pulled out, she had promised sponsors enlisted for next year’s indoor world championships she wouldn’t approach them for three years. So 2018 is out.
Considering the checkered history of the World Games since the event was created in 1990, Omaha may be better prepared than any previous except the inaugural show that did not include reining or para and Aachen, Germany in 2006 that was also pre-para.
After several days in Omaha for international dressage and jumping competition as a test event for the World Cup, this city of tall buildings, broad streets, some of the best steak houses in the world, a welcoming friendliness where “have a nice day” has the ring of sincerity and a population of 450,000 would seem to be the tonic to give new life to the WEG format.
Looking back, initial expressions of interest for the 2018 World Games came from Australia, Africa, multiple locations in Europe as well as North America before dwindling to Bromont. The Canadian bid was rejected and when no other city stayed in for a second round Bromont was selected though short of money and skeletal infrastructure that has led to a musical chairs of senior executives and board members, not even an Internet site with two years to go.
With just days to go for cities to let the FEI know of their interest in 2022, official candidates will be announced in August, host agreements extended in December and a final decision by November, 2017.
Other North American WEG-capable venues such as Tryon, North Carolina; Wellington, Florida and Lexington, Kentucky have sponsor links to Rolex that may rule them out as Longines is the FEI sponsor of choice. Not so Omaha.
How would Omaha handle up to 1,000 athletes and about 1,200 horses from at least 70 countries to perform before more than a half million spectators and volunteers?
–The TD Ameritade Stadium that hosts the annual College World Series of Baseball would be used for dressage, jumping and those two disciplines in eventing. The state of the art facility seats 24,000 spectators that can be expanded to 35,000. It’s directly across the street from
–CenturyLink Center, a super-sized convention center that will host the 2017 World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping and would stage both reining and vaulting in separate indoor sections as well as stable the horses.
–Creighton University’s soccer stadium, newly constructed for 6,000 spectators and blocks from CenturyLink could be used for para-equestrian.
–Driving dressage and cones could be in ball park that would be the main stadium or the soccer field, and Lisa Roskens has an idea of constructing a marathon course through the city streets, a la Formula 1;
–Parks and golf courses within the city offer prospective eventing cross country courses while there’s more than enough room for endurance, not just in Nebraska but across the Missouri River in Iowa.
Critical infrastructure that would be vital for a World Games will be in place for the World Cup.
Transport of horses for the World Games in Kentucky in 2010 would not have been possible without The Dutta Corp. that ships more horses by air around the world than any other company and handles the massive airlift every year for the Global Dressage and Winter Equestrian Festivals and the international polo circuit in Wellington, Florida. The company has already arranged for World Cup horses to be flown into the airport just 10 minutes from the CenturyLink Center that will be a quarantine center.
The vitally important footing for The International Omaha this year was provided by Equestrian Services, Inc. and will install the surfaces for the World Cup next year. The Florida-based company does the same for the competition arenas at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the new multimillion dollar Tryon International Equestrian Center, the Central Park Horse Show in New York and is beginning work at the Colorado Horse Park.
Omaha has more than 14,000 hotel rooms, several thousand within walking distance of the downtown stadiums.
Of about 400,000 spectators at the eight equestrian disciplines at the World Games in Normandy in 2014, almost three-fourths went to the three Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing and jumping.