Event could attract 500,000 visitors and have a $200 million economic impact
Tryon Equestrian Partners announced Tuesday it has saddled up to pursue the world’s top equestrian competition.
TEP said it has partnered with the United States Equestrian Federation to submit a bid to the Fédération Equestre Internationale to bring the 2018 World Equestrian Games to Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, N.C.
The bid follows the withdrawal of Bromont, Quebec, as the host venue of world championships, which FEI said could attract 1,200 riders from 70 countries and 500,000 spectators, and have a $200 million economic impact.
“It’s an amazing event — a true game-changer,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of TEP. “I can’t think of anything that would put the spotlight on this region the way that this would.”
In a letter to FEI, William Moroney, CEO of USEF, expressed regret that Bromont will not host the event, but said it was “critical” the games remain in North America “so that the globalization of the sport can continue.”
Chrystine Tauber, president of USEF, said in the letter that Bellissimo and TEP have the organization’s full endorsement due to “a brand new venue, deep experience and sufficient resources.”
“We are very excited about it,” Bellissimo said. “We’re hopeful the business community will support it. It’s an opportunity for North and South Carolina to work collaboratively … There’s still a lot that needs to be done. But we are well-positioned.”
A study by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet following the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games showed the potential economic impact from the two-week event.
The study found the games generated $201.5 million in visitor spending, including in $128.2 million direct spending and $73.3 million in indirect spending.
The event generated nearly $23 million in state and local tax revenue and supported 3,101 jobs. It attracted nearly 420,000 visitors from 63 countries and all 50 U.S. states, according to the study.
“We have a long and rich history in equestrian competition, and welcome the opportunity to showcase our state’s world-renowned hospitality and tourism assets to the attendees and participants of this prestigious event,” said S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, in a statement.
N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory in a statement also expressed his support for the event.
“North Carolina’s infrastructure and natural beauty make our state a natural fit to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games,” McCrory said in the statement. “We will support efforts to host the games in our state which provide not only a positive experience to all those attending, but a significant boost to North Carolina’s rapidly growing economy.”
TEP, a partnership comprised of six families who hope to grow the sport, said it has invested $125 million during the past two years to develop “the premier equestrian lifestyle destination and resort in the world.”
TIEC is “the centerpiece” of their portfolio. It includes 1,200 permanent stalls, 12 competition arenas, a 6,000-seat international arena with lights and multiple VIP areas, an indoor arena that seats 5,000 and a cross-country course.
Bellissimo said he anticipates hotels, restaurants, retail shops, airports and other businesses throughout the Upstate and Western North Carolina will benefit from the influx of participants and visitors.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Carolina foothills,” said Chris Jennings, executive vice president of the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We should have a few more hotels open by 2018. We are well-positioned to support the event.”
For more information, visit www.tryon.coth.com.