Polk County Equestrian Center to Host FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018

Source: Carly Weilminster, Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring NC.
Source: Carly Weilminster, Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring NC.

Potential to be the largest sporting event in North Carolina history with over $400 million dollars of projected economic impact and 500,000 spectators over the 14-day September 2018 event

Released by Carly Weilminster

On November 3, 2016, it was announced that the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, North Carolina (Polk County) has been selected as the host venue for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 (FEI WEG). The Games, which are administered by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the worldwide governing body of equestrian sport, is the major international championship event for the eight core equestrian disciplines of show jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining.The FEI WEG is held every four years, halfway between the Summer Olympic Games cycle and will occur from September 10 through 23, 2018.

Mark Bellissimo, managing Partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP), commented, “We are honored to be selected by the FEI to be the steward of the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018. 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.”

“We are very pleased to announce Tryon as the host of the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018″, FEI President Ingmar de Vos said. “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.”

“We are thrilled with this news and thank the FEI Bureau for having faith in us and entrusting us with the honor of hosting this prestigious event,” Bellissimo said. “It’s a really great fit for the Carolinas’ equestrian heritage and we look forward to working closely with the FEI and with the USEF to produce a tremendous FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018.”

Equestrian enthusiasts from over 70 countries trek to WEG host cities every four years to cheer on athletes from their native countries, much like the Olympic Games. The Normandy FEI WEG had a local economic impact of $400 million, or 368 million euros, and an attendance of over 500,000 spectators during the 14-day event.

“We are excited about the impact this event will have on the economic health of the Blue Ridge Foothills region of the Carolinas,” said Sharon Decker, COO of Tryon Equestrian Partners, Carolinas’ Operations.

The event has been held in an impressive list of major cities: Stockholm, Sweden (1990), The Hague, Netherlands (1994), Rome, Italy (1998), Jerez de la Frontera, Spain (2002), Aachen, Germany (2006), Lexington, Kentucky (2010), and Normandy, France (2014).

“We are delighted to welcome the FEI World Equestrian Games back to the United States and are delighted that the event will remain in North America,” said USEF President, Chrystine Tauber. “We would like to express our gratitude to Tryon Equestrian Partners for stepping up to host this event with such short notice. Tryon Equestrian Partners has proven their ability to execute complex, high-level events and we are confident in their ability to produce an event of this magnitude. As one of the true pinnacles of equestrian sport, hosting the World Equestrian Games provides a fantastic opportunity to elevate the sport in the United States.”

In 2014, Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP) broke ground on the 1,600-acre Tryon Resort, which expands into both Mill Spring and Tryon, NC, and includes the Tryon International Equestrian Center. TEP has invested over $125 million dollars over the last two years creating the Tryon Resort, which aspires to be the world’s premiere equestrian lifestyle destination. The design of the venue contemplated hosting the WEG, so a vast majority of the equestrian infrastructure is in place. Recent events accelerated the opportunity and the schedule. Today, TIEC is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the world’s premier equestrian venues complete with 12 riding arenas, over 1,160 permanent stalls, a variety of onsite lodging, restaurants, shops, and a year-round competition and events calendar. TIEC has already hosted several national equestrian competitions including the 2016 American Eventing Championships and the 2016 U.S. Pony Club Championships East. To see a recent video overview of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, click here.

Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners, is also the managing partner and largest shareholder of Equestrian Sport Productions, an organization with more than 150 full-time staff and 1,000 part-time staff, that is the largest show organizer in the US and operates more FEI competitions than any other event organizer in the world with 38 weeks of CDI and CSI events through four venues in the following states; Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, and Central Park, New York. The Bellissimo Family is also the owner and publisher of The Chronicle of the Horse, the US most respected and widely distributed horse sport magazine and online media property (www.coth.com). The Chronicle of the Horse’s online media attracts over 8.3 million unique visitors annually.  Together Bellissimo and his partners have invested nearly $500 million in equestrian related assets and properties in Florida, North Carolina, and Colorado which includes the recent $72 million dollar purchase of the International Polo Club in Palm Beach in the spring of 2016.

TIEC is already a welcomed economic engine for the region, having created hundreds of jobs, and is employing thousands in construction efforts over the last two years. WEG’s estimated $400 million impact will extend up to and beyond Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory in North Carolina and Greenville and Spartanburg in South Carolina. TEP estimates it will invest an additional $100 million dollars over the next two years during phase two of the development which is primarily focused on resort amenities including lodging and hospitality elements.

“Our partnership built the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) to support all levels and disciplines of equestrian sport including international competitions and championships,” added Bellissimo. “Our partnership’s passion for equestrian sport is based on our belief that we can grow the sport in the Americas, and that this country needs a comprehensive high-profile, high-quality destination to showcase all equestrian disciplines to an expanding spectator base and to increase access to horse sport for all socio-economic groups.”

For more information, or to log inquiries or questions for the FEI WEG 2018, visit www.TryonWEG.com. Or, visit the following links for photos and video:

For the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 site, visit inside.fei.org/fei/fei-weg/2018.

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About Kay Whatley 2309 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.