Kentucky Considered for 2010 World Games

The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. is one of three locations being considered to host the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG). The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI, the governing body for international equestrian sport), will announce the location of the 2010 games when it meets this December (2005). France (Normandy) and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) are also being considered for the event. However, Dubai is not expected to make a final bid for the games.

The games, first held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1990, include seven world championship events: Dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, show jumping, vaulting, and reining. They are held every four years, two years prior to the Summer Olympic Games.

The Kentucky Horse Park, with the support of Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, formally placed a bid for the 2010 games in October 2004. The FEI will announce the winning host city on Dec. 6.

The Equestrian Games have never taken place outside of Europe, which is something John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park, said will benefit Kentucky in the selection process. He stressed to the FEI officials at their last meeting that the location of the games should reflect its worldwide appeal by awarding a location outside of Europe.

"We tried to strongly emphasize to the FEI that these games are not the European championships," Nicholson said. "These are world championship games."

Nicholson wants the Horse Park and the Lexington area to be prepared for the possibility of hosting the 2010 games. "We are not planning for when the announcement will be made, we are preparing for the day after," Nicholson explained to a group Lexington commerce representatives on Wednesday (Oct. 5). "We want to replace hesitation with confidence," Nicholson said.

Over the two weeks the equestrian games are held (Sept. 20-Oct. 3, 2010), they are expected to attract more than 300,000 spectators, 800 athletes from 50 countries, and 1,000 media outlets broadcasting to 40 countries. The games would generate an estimated $90 million in revenue for the area. According to Nicholson, it would be the largest sporting event Kentucky has ever hosted (the largest Kentucky Derby attendance was 163,628 in 1974).

To accommodate the athletes and spectators, the Horse Park will begin construction (as soon as 2006) on a 6,000-seat indoor arena and a temporary outdoor arena capable of seating up to 25,000 people. Construction of a 250-room hotel is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2006.

Kentucky bid for the 2006 WEG, but the games were awarded to Germany. According to Nicholson, this year will be different.

"The main difference we have in our favor this year is support from the state," Nicholson explained. He said Gov. Fletcher has been instrumental in making Kentucky a competitive international market to host the games.

"We also have a better relationship with the USEF (United States Equine Federation)," Nicholson said. "When we made the bid for 2006, the USET (United States Equestrian Team) and the American Horse Show Association (now the USEF) were in conflict with each other." With their differences settled, the USEF (with a home base at the Horse Park) was able to work closely with the Kentucky Horse Park and the state to put together a competitive bid for 2010.

Another unique feature the Horse Park has to offer is the ability to hold all seven events in a single location, Nicholson said.

"Its a fantastic thing for us," he added. If Kentucky is awarded the 2010 World Equestrian Games, Nicholson said, "it will be an epic moment."

Additional information on the WEG is available by contacting Sherry Frank, assistant executive director of International Services at the USEF, at 859/225-6913, or e-mail The USEF web site is

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for .

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