Bromont , Canada & Lexington, Kentucky Last Possible Hosts for 2018 World Games
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Lexington, Kentucky and Bromont, Canada were confirmed by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Tuesday as the last remaining candidates to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games, the event the governing body of global horse sports describes as its “flagship” event of eight disciplines held once every four years.
The FEI confirmed the two remaining North American venues after Wellington, Florida that each year produces 12 straight weeks of international jumper and dressage competitions pulled out because of a conflict with one of its primary sponsors, Rolex, and one of the FEI ‘s biggest underwriters, Longines.
A lineup that initially included Australia, Africa, multiple locations in Europe as well as North America has dwindled to the locations in Canada and the United States in the second round of bidding. The first round ended with only Bromont remaining but was rejected by the FEI because it could not come up with a big enough guarantee from Canadian taxpayers to cover costs.
The FEI sought to bolster the value of the WEG to host cities.
A study it commissioned found the 2010 WEG had a total economic impact of $373 million to $396 million. Complete details of the study were not released.
But the results were almost double the amount, $201 million, a Kentucky state government study estimated.
As the only host of the Games outside Europe since the WEG was created in 1990, Lexington along with Wellington and 2012 Olympic host London were urged by the FEI to bid. London quickly pulled out and now Wellington has done so for the second time.
The financial underpinning for Bromont, near Montreal in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec, appears to fall short of the criteria the FEI said it required when rejecting the bid the first time around last year. Elections for a new government in Quebec next Monday could alter that, either way.
Lexington, which staged the 2010 Games that were castigated around the world for poor execution and the highest ever ticket and hotel prices, does not yet have an organizing committee to lead a team to prepare for the 2018 WEG. It is not known what guarantee the government of the Bluegrass State has given or whether Alltech, which saved the 2010 Games from a financial debacle and is also the title sponsor of this year’s WEG in Normandy, France will again underwrite the event in its home town.
If selected, however, it would be the first repeat host and the venue is complete and fully operational.
To prepare for the 2010 event, the Kentucky Horse Park underwent $80 million in capital improvements, including a 5,500-seat Alltech indoor arena; the 7,300-seat outdoor Rolex Stadium; new stabling and improved footing in more competition arenas. A question is whether the Rolex Stadium–used not only for WEG in 2010 but annually for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event–would have to change its name.
The FEI said it had signed host agreements from both Bromont/Montreal and Lexington and “the bid teams have both confirmed their continued interest in hosting the Games in 2018.”
“It is unfortunate that Wellington is unable to deliver on the commercial requirements and has had to withdraw,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said, “but we are confident that both Bromont/Montreal and Lexington have very strong bids.
“Both venues are very impressive and there is no question that either of them would offer an excellent location and quality infrastructure for a really wonderful FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018. We are looking forward to the next stage in the process when the two candidates present their detailed bids to the FEI Bureau in June.”
Final bids will be made in person to the FEI Bureau in June. The host city for 2018 will be announced after the meeting.