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Tryon Equestrian Center wins world games, worth up to $200M

MILL SPRING — Tryon Equestrian Center will host the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, an event that's expected to have an economic impact of up to $200 million over two weeks.

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"We are very pleased to announce Tryon as the host of the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018”, FEI President Ingmar de Vos announced today. “The Tryon team submitted a really impressive bid and we have every confidence in the organising committee. It’s a truly spectacular venue and almost all the necessary infrastructure for our eight disciplines is already in place. We are looking forward to a fantastic celebration of top level sport as all the disciplines come together to crown their world champions at the Games in two years’ time.”

Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners, and the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, worked with United States Equestrian Federation to on the bid to land the event, one of the most prestigious in equestrian sports.
Administered by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the worldwide governing body of equestrian sport, the World Equestrian Games occurs every four years between Olympic cycles and is the major international championship event for Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining. The Bromont venue in Canada, which had been awarded the 2018 games, announced in July that it was withdrawing from its hosting arrangement with the FEI.

“We are honored to be selected by the FEI to be the steward of the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018," Bellissimo said. "Next to the Olympic Games, the FEI WEG is the most important event on the world equestrian calendar. We are confident that our partnership and our operating team will create a memorable experience for all involved with the ultimate goal of significantly elevating horse sport in the U.S. beyond the 27 million people who ride a horse at least once a year.”

The United States Equestrian Federation had communicated via letter to the FEI its strong support of the bid to host the 2018 Games in North Carolina. “Mark Bellissimo and Tryon Equestrian Partners have a brand new venue, deep experience and sufficient resources to make this happen. They have the USEF’s full endorsement," USEF President, Chrystine Tauber said in August.

North Carolina and South Carolina state and local governments also expressed support of the bid. The last WEG in North America was held in Lexington, Kentucky in 2010. The games had an economic impact of $201.5 million over the event’s 14 days according to a financial study commissioned by the state.

Tryon Equestrian Partners has invested over $125 million dollars over the last two years developing 1,500 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to create what they believe to be the premier equestrian lifestyle destination and resort in the world. The Tryon International Equestrian Center is the centerpiece of that effort. This venue includes 1,200 permanent stalls, 12 competition arenas, a lighted international arena that seats 6,000 (expandable to 12,000) with multiple VIP areas, a large covered/indoor arena that seats 5,000, as well a world-class cross country course which will support both Eventing and Driving. TIEC is nestled within North Carolina horse country which is accessible to hundreds of miles of equestrian trails to support Endurance.

The center has more than 150 full-time staff and 1,000 part-time staff and operates more FEI competitions than any other organizer in the world with 38 weeks of CDI and CSI events through four venues (Wellington, Tryon, Colorado, and Central Park).

“The WEG is a very challenging and complicated event," Bellissimo said in August when the horse center announced its bid for the world games. "With the exception of Aachen, Germany, most venues are forced to spend many years and tens of millions of dollars investing and developing the venue infrastructure, developing the personnel, attracting sponsors, and managing logistics for the WEG. This takes a financial and operational toll by consuming scarce resources on the venue construction and team building efforts for a one-time event. We have a fully functional equestrian venue, the management team and operational staff, and the sponsor pipeline in place, so the bulk of our energy will be on operational execution and showcasing the event and the sport to the world.”