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Will the 2018 World Equestrian Games jump back into Kentucky?

By Mark Green

Eight countries initially indicated an interest in bidding for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, according to recent world news reports. The countries indicating interest were Canada, Morocco, Austria, the U.S.A., Hungary, Australia, Russia and Sweden.

The Alltech 2010 World Equestrian Games were conducted in Kentucky.
The 2010 World Equestrian Games were conducted in Kentucky.

Australian, Swedish and Russian applications were withdrawn prior to the start of the official bid process, leaving five bidders for the 2018 games – Wellington, Fla., USA; Rabat, Morocco; Bromont, Quebec, Canada; Budapest, Hungary; and Vienna, Austria.

For various reasons, all bidders but Bromont, Quebec, elected to withdraw from the final bidding process.

In July, the FEI rejected the Bromont bid and announced it would reopen the bidding process because Bromont did not provide the necessary financial guarantees on or before the day it was due to be awarded the bid for the 2018 World Games.

Because the FEI will be reopening the bid for the 2018 World Games, it seems appropriate for Kentucky to consider indicating its interest in hosting the 2018 Games.

Research studies conducted on the Alltech 2010 FEI World Games at the Kentucky Horse Park indicate a 2018 repeat performance in Kentucky is a very viable opportunity:

• In the autumn of 2010 (FY11), the Horse Park hosted the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The 16 days of the games alone had a total economic impact of $201.5 million, including $18.4 million in state taxes, according to a report commissioned by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and conducted by Certec Inc.

• For FY11 as a whole – excluding the 2010 Games – the cabinet calculated the park’s economic impact to be $179 million, generating $14.2 million in taxes. As a result of combined events and activities held at the Kentucky Horse Park during FY11, $32.6 million in tax revenues were added to the general fund of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

• The total attendance at the 2010 Games was 507,000.

• On four days of the 2010 Games, the attendance was more than 40,000 persons.

• 96 percent of residents felt hosting the 2010 event was beneficial to Kentucky.

• 74 percent of international visitors stated they were likely to return to Kentucky as a result of the World Games.

• TV channels around the world aired 1,556 broadcasts. Total broadcast time was 474 hours.

• 38 hours were broadcast in the United States, of which 20 were live.

All research data seem to indicate hosting the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky would be a winning and financially successful idea for the FEI and Kentucky. Due to the quality facilities already in place at the Kentucky Horse Park, the financial investment and risk of hosting the 2018 World Games would likely be greatly reduced.