Van Kampen Covered Arena Being Erected at Global Dressage Festival Grounds

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Steel beams erected for first side of covered arena at Global Dressage Festival grounds. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 2– The first steel beams for the Van Kampen covered arena were erected Monday on the Global Dressage Festival grounds, a month before the inaugural competition at the new show facility that is part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

The arena will measure 210 ft. by 360 ft. (64m x 110m), easily large enough for three full size (20m x 60m) dressage arenas, and is one of the largest in the world.

The covered arena is a major feature of the GDF show grounds that is the centerpiece of the second phase of development of PBIEC. The complex is home to the world famous Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) of jumper and hunter competition. More than $25 million (€19.3 million) has been invested in rebuilding the show grounds over the past four years and this year is on track for the largest boost in four straight years of record entries for 12 weeks of WEF, which launches Jan. 11 with as many as 2,500 entries from almost every state and 30 countries in the first week.

At the Global Dressage Festival grounds on 57 acres (23 Ha.), more than $6 million (€4.6 million) will have been spent on building four outdoor arenas, 200 permanent stalls, the covered arena, a spectator deck in the center of the grounds providing a panoramic view of the grounds and extensive landscaping when the first of five CDIs this winter begins the first week of February.

On tap for the 2013 winter circuit are another 200 permanent stalls to bring the total to 400 and a permanent VIP club.

The first of the 24-foot (7.3m) high steel beams being erected for the Van Kampen Arena at the Global Dressage Festival grounds. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The size of the covered arena makes it large enough to seat several thousand spectators.

The GDF show grounds and an adjoining grass jumping derby course replace fields that were the original centerpiece of Wellington as a winter equestrian destination when, according to newspaper reports from the time, as many as 14,000 spectators each week from January through April packed a grandstand and tail gated to watch games.

The covered arena will be named the Van Kampen Arena in memory of the late investor, Robert Van Kampen, who established a family legacy of philanthropy and charitable giving.

Van Kampen Arena will be available for 30 days a year for use by charities and non-profit organizations.

Kimberly Boyer, one of Robert Van Kampen’sthree daughters, has been instrumental in spearheading creation of the dressage facility by the Wellington Equestrian Psrtners, of which she is one, that owns PBIEC.

Wellington Equestrian Partners, that owns PBIEC and hundreds of other acres of property around the show grounds, and Equestrian Sport Productions that manages the horse shows are both headed up by Mark Bellissimo.

Kimberly Boyer (in blue) with Wellington Equestrian Partners Roger Smith (left) and Mark and Katherine Bellissimo toasting installation of the first steel beams for the Van Kampen Arena at the Global Dressage Festival grounds. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Kim is the owner of Hampton Green Farms in Wellington, Florida, and Fruitport, Michigan, and focuses on breeding, training and competition of P.R.E., Pure Spanish Horses. She is married to Frederic Boyer.

Robert Van Kampen founded an investment banking firm in 1975 that became Van Kampen Funds, a pioneer in the packaging of municipal bonds into unit trusts sold to individual investors with insurance against default. He also amassed one of the largest private collections of rare and antique Bibles in North America that is now owned by the family trust. The trust also owned Hampton Court in Herefordshire, England, a medieval country house converted into a Christian study center which included the Van Kampen garden. The property was sold in 2008. Robert Van Kampen died in 1999 at the age of 60.

Installation of steel beams for the Van Kampen Arena at the Global Dressage Festival grounds continued into the nght. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com