Lexington & Wellington Meet Deadline to Join Bromont Bidding for 2018 World Games

8 years ago StraightArrow Comments Off on Lexington & Wellington Meet Deadline to Join Bromont Bidding for 2018 World Games
Kentucky Horse Park Main Stadium that was the competition arena for dressage and jumping at the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
Kentucky Horse Park Main Stadium that was the competition arena for dressage and jumping at the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

The two American cities of Lexington, Kentucky and Wellington, Florida joined Canada’s Bromont as the last remaining applicants to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games when their initial bids were submitted to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) by Friday’s deadline.

The bids by Lexington and Wellington were sent in by the U.S. Equestrian Federation while Bromont’s application was held over from the first round when it was rejected by the FEI for failng to fully meet a requirement for a “public sector” financial guarantee.

The latest round of a process to find a host for the WEG held once every four years as the world championships of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining. vaulting and para-dressage is a year behind the schedule the FEI set initially.

When expressions of interest to host the 2018 WEG were first sought, eight cities expressed interest. Prospective candidates in Australia, Russia and Sweden quickly dropped out. Morocco and Wellington pulled out as did Hungary to throw its weight behind Vienna which in turn didn’t follow through on its application.

The 1976 Montreal Olympic equestrian site at Bromont was the sole remaining bidder and was expected to be awarded the Games. The events in 2006 and 2010 were reported by organizers to have attracted about 500,000 spectators and had an economic impact of about $200 million on their respective areas.

But the FEI said Bromont’s public sector financial support of about $4 million was not enough and the Canadian federal government did not come through with another $20 million the organizers sought.

The bidding was re-opened.

The FEI, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, sought expressions of interest from Great Britain, the two U.S. cities as well as enabling Bromont to stay in. Britain expressed interest than quickly withdrew.

Lexington and Wellington decided to pursue the event. Both cities have existing infrastructure capable of handling WEG.

It was unclear whether and to what extent public sector guarantees would be required of Lexington and Wellington.

As of the Nov. 15 deadline, Bromont had not secured the government financial support required by the FEI but hoped to do so by the time of final bids in March, 2014.

The FEI will review the three applications before the next deadline of Dec. 2 to announce the official host city candidates.

The financial record of the WEG has been spotty since the first event in Stockholm in 1990. The Hague, Netherlands in 1994  was a financial calamity; Rome came to the rescue at the last minute in 1998 when Ireland lost its leading sponsor, and Jerez, Spain incurred debts that taxpayers took years to pay off after the 2002 Games.

Aachen, Germany in 2006 produced the most successful WEG attracting more than 500,000 spectators, turning a proft and breaking new ground by staging dressage in a sold-out main stadium that was expanded to accommodate 40,000 spectators.

For Kentucky in 2010, the results were mixed. About $85 million was spent to construct new outdoor and indoor arenas as well as refurbishing the entire taxpayer-owned Horse Park. The improvements have been meticulously maintained to consolidate its standing as a premier national and international venue.

However, the organizing committee went through about the same amount, ended up deep in the red and was blamed for ticket prices that were the highest of any WEG and hotel rates that were widely described as extortionate.

The 2014 Games have Alltech as the same title sponsor as Lexington, but the local, provincial and national governments of France are deeply involved and are picking up a big slice of the tab.

Corrections & Clarifications: The WEG is one year behind schedule, correcting a prevous version that stated the schedule was two years behind schedule.