(ATR) The International Equestrian Federation tells Around the Rings that Tryon, North Carolina was the only city capable of hosting the 2018 World Equestrian Games on short notice.
"We were very happy to receive bids from a number of venues, all with the backing of the National Federations, but as there are less than two years to go it was necessary to go with the candidate that already had all, or at least most of, the infrastructure in place already, and that was Tryon," an FEI spokesperson tells ATR.
The FEI was put in a tight situation when the original host of the event Bromont, Canada withdrew due to a lack of financial support in July. The federation mandated its president Ingmar De Vos to find a solution in a timely fashion.
The equestrian federation says it received interest from several cities and organizations to host the 2018 WEG but only two had the necessary existing infrastructure to stage the event –Tryon and Samorin, Slovakia. The FEI Bureau decided unanimously on Nov. 3 to allocate the 2018 WEG to Tryon.
The event will be staged at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, a 1,600 acre site in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with 12 arenas and a seating capacity of 12,000. The center was created by Mark Bellissimo in 2014 and features its own restaurants, accommodations and shopping centers.
"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 North Carolina’s equestrian heritage and we look forward to working closely with the FEI and with the USEF to produce fabulous FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018."
The equestrian complex is the premier event site in the small town of Tryon that is home to 1,600 people on the border of North and South Carolina. The town hopes to capitalize on the economic impact of the two-week event which brought 500,000 people and $400 million to the local economy of Normandy, France in 2014.
Located an hour or more from nearby cities such as Spartanburg, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina, hosting nearly half a million people during the event could pose a challenge for organizers.
To help accommodate the influx of visitors from as many as 72 countries for the event, hotel company Salamander is building a resort and spa at the Tryon International complex that will be ready for the event, according to the Charlotte Observer.
The announcement of the international event comes at a time when several national sporting events have been pulled from the state due to the controversial HB2 bill. The bill limits the rights of homosexual or transgender individuals to use public bathrooms of the gender they identify with.
The National Basketball Association pulled the 2017 NBA All-Star game from Charlotte because of the bill signed by Governor Pat McCrory in March. The NCAA and ACC also removed collegiate basketball tournaments from the state as a result of the HB2 controversy.
McCrory says the 2018 WEG will have a much greater effect on the state’s economy than any of the events that have been withdrawn from North Carolina thus far.
"This is bigger, with all due respect, than the All-Star Game, a football game, a basketball game – combined, times two," McCrory said. "This economic impact is huge."
The 2018 WEG will be staged from Sep. 10-23.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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