This announcement was made more than a month ago, but I didn’t want to let it pass without noting. It sounds like a big deal. Here’s the press release via the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina:
The 2018 World Equestrian Games will be held at Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina, only the second time the high-profile world championship event has been staged outside Europe.
In 2010 the Games, sponsored by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), were held in Lexington, Kentucky. The Games had an economic impact of $201.5 million in Kentucky over the event’s 14 days, according to a financial study commissioned by the state.
The Games, held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle, combine eight world championships at one event: jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining.
The Games will be held Sept. 10-23, 2018, at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, created and opened by Mark Bellissimo only two years ago in Mill Spring, North Carolina. The 1,600-acre site is located in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, roughly halfway between Asheville, North Carolina, and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
State and local governments in North Carolina and South Carolina have supported Tryon’s bid to host the games. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has said the games “will provide not only a positive experience to all those attending, but a significant boost to North Carolina’s rapidly growing economy.”
The FEI Bureau unanimously agreed by teleconference this week to award the Games to Tryon, following the withdrawal of Bromont in Quebec, Canada. The 2018 games were previously awarded to Bromont, but a lack of secure funding led to a mutual agreement to terminate the contract in July. With the Games less than two years away, finding a new location with ready infrastructure was crucial.
“The Tryon team submitted a really impressive bid and we have every confidence in the organizing committee,” FEI President Ingmar de Vos said this week. “It’s a truly spectacular venue, and almost all the necessary infrastructure for our eight disciplines is already in place.”
The Tryon International Equestrian Center has 1,200 permanent stables, 12 arenas including a floodlit international arena with a spectator seating capacity of up to 12,000 and VIP seating for up to 1,500, a covered arena with 5,000 seats, and a world-class cross country course for the eventing and driving competitions. The venue is surrounded by hundreds of miles of equestrian trails for endurance competition. The site also has excellent facilities for athletes and spectators including restaurants, hospitality, accommodation, retail and resort amenities. An state-of-the-art veterinary facility is currently under construction.
“We are thrilled with this news and thank the FEI Bureau for having faith in us and entrusting us with the honor of hosting this prestigious event,” Bellissimo said. “It’s a really great fit for the Carolinas’ equestrian heritage.”
The Games were first held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1990. Since then, the Games have been staged in The Hague, Netherlands; Rome, Italy; Jerez, Spain; Aachen, Germany; Lexington, Kentucky; and Normandy, France.
The 2014 Games in Normandy attracted more than 500,000 on-site spectators and a worldwide television audience of 350 million, according to the FEI. The economic impact in France was more than $400 million, the FEI said.