Owners of Global Dressage & Winter Equestrian Festivals Buy International Polo Club

5 years ago StraightArrow Comments Off on Owners of Global Dressage & Winter Equestrian Festivals Buy International Polo Club
International Polo Club, ©  Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
International Polo Club, © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 17–The partnership group that owns and operates the Global Dressage Festival and the Winter Equestrian Festival of hunters and jumpers announced Thursday it has has signed a definitive purchase agreement to buy the International Polo Club.

Mark Bellissimo, managing partner and largest shareholder of Wellington Equestrian Partners, announced the acquisition of one of the world’s premier polo grounds of 248 acres (122HA.) with a full service resort-style spa that came up for sale when former owner John Goodman in 2014 began serving a 16-year sentence after conviction on charges of manslaughter and driving under the influence.

“With the shroud of uncertainty that has plagued the venue and the event, our partnership wanted to ensure that IPC was going to be protected as a long-term venue for polo and other equestrian sports, which is key to Wellington’s economy,” Mark said.

The three show grounds form a virtual triangle each location about one mile/1.6km apart from each other. Sandwiched between the Global grounds and IPC is an estate owned by a family that is seeking to have the dressage facility torn down.

This key acquisition, the announcement said, will allow consolidation of Wellington’s primary equestrian venues and development of a unique market offering centered around equestrian lifestyle and the love of horses.

“We have demonstrated at PBIEC that by creating and promoting high-level equestrian sport in venues that are both entertaining and family-friendly, you can create a level of success for both spectators and sponsors,” Mark said.

“WEP, whose Winter Equestrian Festival has over 100 sponsors, intends to bring the same energy and vision to IPC and will create an international marketing effort that will cross-promote the events for the mutual benefit of Polo, Wellington, Palm Beach County, and all of equestrian sport. The IPC venue, together with Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s jumper and dressage venues will provide a third venue to enhance Wellington’s equestrian sport offerings.

“We are now positioned to achieve a new level of prominence and excellence for the competitor and visitor experience at all of our venues. This allows us to establish and showcase Wellington as the world destination for polo, show jumping and dressage. We will present a vision for the venue and the facility soon.”

Mark Bellissimo in the past decade has become the major force in American dressage, jumping and hunter competitions as the majority owner of WEP that will now own all three major Wellington horse show grounds, the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina as well as the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, organizer of the Central Park Horse Show in New York and the annual jumping event at Par a Lago estate on Palm Beach owned by Donald Trump who is seeking to become the Republican presidential candidate. He also recently bought the Wanderers Club, a country club style recreation and restaurant facility in Wellington.

Mark said he had already initiated discussions with the United States Polo Association and key stakeholders in the polo community to forge a strategy of cooperation and collaboration to ensure that Wellington and IPC remain as the premier destination for spring, fall, and winter polo in the nation.

Chairman Joe Meyer of the USPA commented, “As the governing body of the sport of polo, it is always our mission to create great experience for our clubs, teams, horses, members and fans of the game. In doing so, we look forward to continuing our relationship with the International Polo Club to showcase thrilling high goal polo competition through the 2018 season and beyond.”

Polo is a core foundation of Wellington as a world-renowned equestrian destination, getting its start in the community in the 1970s. According to the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, Wellington’s combined equestrian events generate over $200 million in annual economic impact and over 150,000 hotel room nights.