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North Carolina Could Host the 2018 World Equestrian Games

When Bromont, Quebec, won the hosting duties for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, the location was poised to be only the second host outside of Europe in the event’s history. Bromont, which is near Montreal, is no stranger to top-level equestrian competition. The site was home to most of the equestrian events of the 1976 Summer Olympics, and is currently the home of the annual Bromont CCI3* Three-Day Event.

Still, the WEG is a major endeavor requiring infrastructure for eight different sports and all of the horses, athletes, spectators and vendors that come with it, and the overhead cost is daunting. Earlier this summer, after it was clear that the organizing committee would be unable to secure necessary funding, Bromont backed out of the 2018 games.

North American Potential

Many North American equestrian fans turned to Lexington, Kentucky, host of the 2010 WEG, in hopes that the extensive venues that already exist at the Kentucky Horse Park could be used again for 2018. The state quickly shut down that possibility, but left open the potential for another bid for the games in the future, possibly as early as 2022. The WEG is held once every four years, in between Olympic years.

Wellington, Florida, is another town with an extensive equestrian park, and that location has put in a bid in the past. However, local politics have been a sticking point for that winter haven for equestrians, and Florida is certainly not ideal for an event that would take place in late summer.

An Equestrian Community

However, North American fans can take heart. With an announcement today, Tryon, North Carolina, is now officially in the running to take over hosting duties for 2018. The new Tryon International Equestrian Center, which also maintains an extensive winter competition schedule, would be the host facility of the games.

Perhaps most importantly, the bid has support of not just the United States Equestrian Federation, but of the state government. Both North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and South Carolina Nikki Haley have expressed their support of the bid. The city of Tryon sits on the border between the two states.

Government support is essential as some amount of public funding or incentives are almost assuredly necessary to make the games a success. The lack of federal financial support in Bromont was a large factor in its cancellation.

However, with the brand new, extensive facilities at Tryon, additional development won’t be as much of a concern as it would be at other first-time WEG host cities.

“We are uniquely and immediately positioned to hold all eight disciplines within a central venue,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners. “Further, our integrated approach to existing on-site lodging, restaurants, permanent VIP hospitality venues, and abundance of on-site and local area family activities would be attractive for vendors, sponsors, competitors, horse owners, and spectators. In addition, there are 60,000 hotel beds within 60 miles of the venue. We are confident that these elements would create a very successful games and re-energize the WEG product.”

Leslie Potter is Managing Editor of Follow her on Twitter: @LeslieInLex.

Leslie Potter

Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, Ky.Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.

View Comments

  • I support this event to be hold in NC. It will show the great potential that US still retains in the equine disciplines.

  • I attended the WEG in France in 2014 and hopes of going to Canada for the 2018 WEG. I think the N. C. possibility is excellent. Hope it can be worked out soon.

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