Wellington, FL – Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP) and Stadium Jumping, Inc. (SJI) announced today that an agreement has been reached that ensures the National Horse Show and Winter Equestrian Festival will remain at its existing location. This latest agreement was approved unanimously by WEP partners and Stadium Jumping’s Board of Directors. The transaction officially closed on Monday, November 19.
As part of the agreement, all of SJI’s Wellington licenses for horse show dates issued by the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) have been transferred into a new subsidiary named Equestrian Show Holdings, LLC (ESH), that is 100 percent wholly owned by WEP.
This transfer has been approved by the United States Equestrian Federation.
“The United States Equestrian Federation congratulates Wellington Equestrian Partners and Stadium Jumping, Inc. for this historic agreement. The USEF license agreements with Stadium Jumping will be transferred to the new entity subsequent to the closing,” said John Long, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Equestrian Federation.”
The board of directors of the newly created ESH to maintain the licenses includes Eugene R. Mische as honorary chairman, Mark J. Bellissimo, WEP managing partner, S. Craig Lindner, Co-President of American Financial Group, Roger Smith, a financier and investor, Jeremy Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Delaware North Companies and Louis Jacobs, Executive Vice President of Delaware North.
In addition, three outside directors, to be mutually agreed between WEP and SJI, will be appointed to the ESH board. Further, Mische and Michael J. Morrissey, current SJI Chief Operating Officer, will remain as consultants to the new entity for three years to ensure a smooth transition.
A new company called Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), also a wholly-owned subsidiary of WEP, will be the operating company responsible for managing all of WEP’s equestrian events in Wellington.
All lawsuits filed by both parties will be dismissed.
As part of the plan to create a world-class equestrian corridor, substantial capital improvements are already underway at the stadium and the showgrounds that have been the longtime home of the Winter Equestrian Festival. The new stadium and showgrounds have been renamed Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. WEP acquired both properties in September. The combined PBIEC showgrounds cover more than 150 acres including 57 acres at the stadium.
Bellissimo said that improvement to the showgrounds will accelerate with this agreement and include elevating the quality of footing in competition arena, better spectator facilities and parking, internal traffic circulation for horses, golf carts and pedestrians, as well as major improvements for dressage competitions.
The Wellington show dates comprise 10 hunter-jumper and four dressage competition dates that span four months from September through March. Included are the National Horse Show, Dressage at the Nationals, the Christmas Show and the complete Wellington hunter-jumper and dressage calendar of the Winter Equestrian Festival that is highlighted by the jumping Nations Cup, three World Cup qualifiers, the Global Champions Tour and a Dressage CDI.
SJI also agreed to the upgrade of two competitions held at the neighboring Littlewood Farms shows–Littlewood Spring 2 and Spring 3–from “C” to “AA” that will have the effect of extending the Wellington winter circuit from the end of November to the end of March.
WEP will actively solicit input from trainers, owners, and exhibitors to create an overall strategy for the expanded show schedule.
In addition, all money paid in advance by exhibitors for stabling and other services will be honored.
SJI will continue to own and operate shows outside of the Palm Beach area including Tampa, Charlotte, Lake Placid, NY and the American Gold Cup in Cleveland, Ohio. SJI’s Tampa schedule will be expanded to three weeks from two weeks and include the Budweiser American Invitational.