Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park in Bromont, QC, which has been for sale for well over a year, has been taken over by Marc-Antoine Samson and White Horse Productions (WHP), who will lease the property from Shefford County Agricultural Society (SACS) with the intent to buy it by the fall of 2022. He will be assisted by his father, Michel Samson, General Manager of WHP, and Gabriel Belanger, who has been named as Operations Manager.
The young entrepreneur, an equestrian enthusiast who owns the White Horse Boutique, a tack and apparel store in nearby Magog, and Eastern Townships Acreages, an equine nutrition company, had been contemplating acquiring the property for several years. “The primary reason for our commitment to the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park is to restore its credentials” he stated. “We expect an economic impact, both direct and indirect, of up to $50 million dollars per year for the Bromont region in addition to local, national and international media exposure.”
Bromont was famously the site of the 1976 Olympic Games, and has hosted numerous major international equestrian events in eventing, show jumping, dressage and driving annually since then. The park is comprised of a series of properties that are owned and leased totalling over 100 acres; the main facility for dressage and jumpers covers more than 30 acres.
The new company will take over of the management of the equestrian site for the 2021 show season, with event organizers remaining in control of their respective projects. At present, 17 competitions spread over 22 weeks are scheduled on the Bromont site, including three summer events presented by CSO Bécancour (now CSO Bromont) and a stop in the Major League Show Jumping tour. The full season schedule will be announced shortly and includes some key FEI events important to the Canadian Equestrian Team leading up to the Olympics; the WHP team assures that they are committed to maintaining those dates. All events will be open to the general public (following Covid guidelines).
Several long-needed infrastructure upgrades have been pending for years which SACS predicted would cost around $6 million; the Ministry of Tourism granted $ 1.7 million in 2018 for an initiative which included constructing a reception pavilion which could host indoor events. The erection of permanent structures to replace annual tent rentals was also planned.
“Our intent is to upgrade four of the major competition rings. We will be assessing the conditions of all the infrastructures in the coming spring,” said Jean-Francois Archambault, Director of Communications and Partnerships for Bromont Equestrian Olympic Park.
It is no secret that hosting public events during the ongoing pandemic is difficult and risky. Organizers must provide special documentation to bring in foreign riders, and create a bubble for US riders to go into quarantine. “We intend to comply to the regulations in place regarding hosting during COVID. The executive team and each responsible event organizer are working tightly hand-in-hand to be all clear for every event and controls that surround them,” said Archambault.
The non-profit organization SACS is still saddled with significant debts related to the property. Mortgages total $2.5 million to the main creditor, the Caisse Desjardins de Granby Haute-Yamaska. SACs representative Rosaire Houde has said that all creditors would be paid in full before the sale which which must take place within two years. While the financial terms and other conditions of the agreement are not public, the original asking price when the property was offered for sale in 2019 was over $2.3 million for the land and $450,000 for the infrastructure. (An equestrian activity easement on the site was valued at just over $1.2 million for 2020-22.)
“We are delighted with this opportunity. One of the SACS main goals for this agreement is to secure the sustainability of the Park and the improvement of its infrastructure,” says Marcel Bundock, President of the Shefford County Agricultural Society. “We wanted a generational succession, and Mark-Anthony, through White Horse Productions, also meets this criterion. This new agreement will ensure the development of Olympic classic equestrian sport east of Ontario. The future looks bright with this new agreement.”
Samson concluded with, “Building on many years of experience in the equestrian world, I want to make the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park a must-see for equestrian competitions, making Bromont shine as a leader of host cities. We aspire to create world-class events, and will do our utmost to achieve it.”