After the FEI officially announced that Bromont would not be hosting the 2018 WEG, there was immediately speculation about which venue could host the event under such a tight timeline. There are only a handful of venues in the world that have the necessary infrastructure to host the behemoth event with championships for eight disciplines, but many of them are under contract with Rolex, which conflicts with the FEI’s top partner Longines.
After some online speculation, the Kentucky Horse Park released the following statement denying that that they would host the event:
After learning Bromont was unable to host the World Equestrian Games in 2018, the Kentucky Horse Park and the Cabinet of Tourism, Arts and Heritage immediately reached out to event sponsors and analyzed the benefits and disadvantages of hosting the World Equestrian Games in 2018.
The consensus of Kentucky Horse Park and the Cabinet of Tourism, Arts and Heritage professional staff was that hosting the World Equestrian Games in 2018, with such a short timeline, would put the Commonwealth and taxpayers at enormous financial risk. It was also determined that the timeline of two years was too short for the horse park to host the best event possible.
The Kentucky Horse Park is preparing a strong proposal for the World Equestrian Games in 2022. We hope that we can bring people from all over the world back to experience all that Kentucky has to offer. The Kentucky Horse Park is already improving its amenities as it prepares a successful bid for the 2022 World Equestrian Games.
Rolex is the sponsor of the main stadium at KHP, but the contract is up for renewal in 2020.
“As of now, the agreement expires in approximately 2020, but they may continue with that upon expiration as they’ve been a partner here for 30 years with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event,” said Lisa Jackson, the director of Marketing & PR for KHP.
While Aachen would seem an obvious choice, their strong ties with Rolex as part of the Rolex Grand Slam also precludes them from consideration.
There are two other venues in Europe that are potential candidates: the Magna Racino in Austria, and the Samorin Equestrian Centre in Slovakia.
The Magna Racino, owned by the founder of Magna International, Frank Stronach, had originally expressed interest in bidding on the 2018 WEG, but ultimately did not submit a final proposal. A spokesperson for the venue recently noted that Stronach would be “delighted to make the facility available for the Games if outside funding was provided for additional infrastructure.”
The Samorin Equestrian Centre in Slovakia is part of a large sports complex with facilities for 18 sports built by Mario Hoffman. The equestrian portion is the largest of the resort and was completed in 2014 and was designed by Arno Geno, founder of the Aachen School of Equestrian Art and Design and an FEI Official International Course Designer.
The center, called the X-Bionic Sphere, was recently awarded the 2016 World Endurance Championships to be held on September 17 after the FEI pulled the event from Dubai for several serious equine welfare violations.
The new facility is still growing, however, and does not yet have all the amenities in place ‒ including a cross-country course ‒ and has stated that they have not been approached by the FEI about the 2018 event. “We believe that the riding center is unique and special, therefore, our ultimate goal definitely is to organize the World Equestrian Games one day,” said Liana Zámocká, a marketing representative for X-Bionic Sphere. “For this reason we have officially entered the bidding process with the FEI for hosting the 2022 World Equestrian Games.”
The options are dwindling. With time running out, the FEI may need to invest money into an existing infrastructure if they are to entice a venue to take on this enormous task on such short notice.