02.24.07

Frankfort Holds the reins

Posted in 2010 Games, BusinessLexington, Funding, Government, Kentucky, Kentucky House, Kentucky Senate, KyHP Funding, News Worthy at 2:31 pm by Thomas

Erik A. Carlson and Susan Baniak of Business Lexington have written an outstanding article on the current situation in regards to the needed funds for the Horse Park. This article goes into great depths on a number of aspects and is appropriately titled, “Frankfort Holds the reins“. By permission of Tom Martin we are re-posting here in its entirety. The original article can be found here on the Business Lexington site.

02.21.07

2011 National Championship of Breeds

Posted in News Worthy, Position Statements at 5:45 pm by Thomas

We had heard rumors but now it has been confirmed in a Lexington Herald Leader article that World Games 2010 Foundation has also started on plans for a National Championship of Breeds to begin in 2011. Now again we can not take credit for this development, and our idea is for the Kentucky World Equestrian Games to occur every 4 years beginning in 2015 but we certainly support there efforts. Jim Host, the Foundation’s Chairmen, expects this event to bring in hundreds of thousands of people every year.

The only thing that struck us as odd was that we have only heard the rumors about this very recently and not sure who in the Foundation initially put forth this idea though it may have been Mr. Host himself. Still the problem remains, more effort needs to be put forth in explaining to the citizens of Kentucky as to why this is important to all of them, not just the perceived notion that it only benefits wealthy horse people. Ultimately, if the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010 are not successful it will be hard to get the support to put together such a large event the very next year.

Our reasoning for going all the way until 2015 before having the Kentucky World Equestrian Games was the expectation that it would some time to pull the resources together again to host such a large event. Then we did not want to run up against the Summer Olympics in 2012 or the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2014. By going with 2015 we hope it would be a qualifying event for Equestrians wanting to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics which we hope will be in Chicago. After that the 4 year cycle will keep our Kentucky World Equestrian Games occurring in the year before the Summer Olympics going forward and would allow us the time to grow the Kentucky World Equestrian Games each time proving the regions ability to host a Summer Olympics of our own.

02.16.07

Fund The Horse Park Stadium Now

Posted in 2010 Games, BusinessLexington, Funding, Government, Governor Fletcher, Kentucky, Kentucky House, Kentucky Senate, KyHP Funding, Legislation, News Worthy at 11:21 pm by Thomas

Tom Martin, Editor in Chief of Business Lexington wrote a compelling article on the need to provide the additional funding now for the Horse Park as proposed by Governor Fletcher in his State of the Commonwealth Address. This article also speaks to the importance of this opportunity to all Kentuckians across the state.

We thank Mr. Martin for allowing us to repost his article and for his efforts in promoting this cause that we also feel so strongly for.

Fund The Horse Park Stadium Now
By Tom Martin, Editor in chief
Business Lexington

Governor Fletcher’s recent call on the General Assembly to fund a $24 million outdoor arena at the Kentucky Horse Park is far more urgent than even recent press reports, including our own, have implied.

The Fayette County legislative delegation must “get this” and must close ranks immediately in a unified demand that House Speaker Jody Richards and Senate President David Williams cease their resistance to revising the current budget to provide these funds.

There is no time to quarrel over who is at fault for allowing this situation to become so serious and at such an 11th hour. We will sort that out later.

Right now, all of us here in Kentucky need to understand that in 3 short years we are going to represent the entire United States on live television broadcast worldwide by NBC and in other media from scores of nations. We need to appreciate the generous $10 million sponsorship of Alltech and to respect the industry that, more than any other, positively defines Kentucky culture.

Here is the situation.

When in 2006 the Fletcher administration requested initial funds for Horse Park improvements, the intent at the time was to demonstrate to the organizing body, the Federation Equestre Internationale, that Kentucky has the wherewithal to become the first-ever site outside of Europe to host the prestigious World Equestrian Games. It wasn’t until Kentucky officials actually traveled to the ’06 Games in Aachen, Germany that they realized the necessity of a permanent outdoor arena.

Time is of the essence. Best estimates project a 9-month planning and design process followed by a 12-month construction phase. And that doesn’t account for the inevitable delays. Even in a best case scenario, with funding provided in the ’07 session, construction could not begin until after the 2008 Rolex Three Day Event.

The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are scheduled for late summer of 2010. The Horse Park, however, is required to host a series of test events in preparation for the games. Those test events must get underway no later than the spring of 2009.

According to Malina Gueorguiev, Communications Manager, Fédération Equestre Internationale in Lausanne, Switzerland, “We do organize an event for the specialists to go in and see if, for example, a new ground has been put in place; to run on that new ground to see how good it is because for the horses, it’s key.” Gueorguiev added, “Any event in the world does not match the standards of the World Equestrian Games. It’s a really, really exceptional event.”

Indeed. It is an exceptional event for all of Kentucky, not just the Bluegrass. The anticipated economic impact spreads far and wide, enriching industries ranging from human hospitality to equine support.

Whether you live in Paducah, Ashland, Louisville, Somerset or Dry Ridge, you live in a state that, when perceived positively by the rest of the world, is viewed as “The Horse State.”

Think we have a corner on this? Think again. Maryland, among other states, is breathing down our necks.

The state has completed a feasibility study for a parcel of land in Anne Arundel County and is currently in the process of putting in a bid for long-term control of the property. If their bid is accepted, they estimate it will take roughly three years and an investment of $114 million in capital costs to get the Maryland Horse Park up and running, said Rob Burk, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, part of Maryland’s Department of Agriculture.

When asked about the long-term economic value of that investment, Burk said they looked to Kentucky, as well as other state horse parks.

“For us it really came to light through the feasibility study when we were looking at the economic impact of not only the Kentucky Park but other parks around the country,” Burk said. “From a state’s perspective, we look at the amount of taxes that are actually generated through the park. For us, we came up with a number of about $11 million that would be generated each year for a similar facility to Kentucky’s. And that’s really how we justify the capital costs of a facility like this.”

That doesn’t count the estimated annual economic impact of more than $100 million for Maryland businesses, and that’s without an event like the World Equestrian Games.

Burk compares a horse park to both a centralized farmers market for the equine industry and a convention center.

“The way we look at it is it really is a place for the public to interact, to put money into our industry” said Burk, who added that a sales facility has also been folded into the Maryland Horse Park design. “Since we can’t have a farmer’s market stand for a horse necessarily, the states have created these (parks) as large markets where they can advertise, in your case what Kentucky has to offer, in our case what Maryland has to offer.”

“From an industry standpoint, and I think most heads of the industry will agree, the future of our sport really does lie in these facilities,” Burk added. “They are one of the most promising things for our sport.”

Kentucky must remain preeminent in the horse industry. The ultimate purpose of the proposed outdoor arena extends well beyond its use in the 2010 Games. A new outdoor stadium, along with the new indoor arena, makes possible the National Equestrian Festival, an annual weeklong mega-event expected to attract 75,000 spectators producing a regional economic impact of $75 million. In addition, events such as this will enable the Horse Park to reach its goal of becoming self-sufficient –as in free of dependence on taxpayer dollars– by 2012.

We understand the reluctance of legislative leaders to re-open the budget in what is supposed to be a brief, non-budgetary session. Indeed, when voters added the odd-year short session it wasn’t meant to decide the entire biennial budget, but certainly the intent wasn’t to have the 138 members of the legislature trot to Frankfort only to pass bills that didn’t cost the state a dime. The intent was to keep the governor from calling special session after special session to alleviate issues that came up in the 20 months between the end of one session and the start of another.

Few will recall that the 2007 Kentucky General Assembly appropriated $24 million for a stadium. But who would forget that the politicians in Frankfort cost our state…and nation…such an important economic driver as the World Equestrian Games?

Is the level of urgency actually that high? Consider this: France, Holland and Ireland all lost the Games to other countries or failed to execute the event well, all related to failure to live up to promises made during the bidding process.

When asked if the WEG coming for the first time to the United States had generated any excitement in Maryland, Burk said there was still quite a bit of indifference among the general public. He feels certain that will change once people understand the scope of it better.

“I’m sure once the Equestrian Games get here, and we are able to show and demonstrate the statistics as far as the economic impact of this type of event, it will garner interest, especially from the legislators,” Burk said. “But until that time I think there is kind of a detachment here in Maryland.”

We know the feeling. Hopefully, we can generate that kind of interest among our own legislators before the world is arriving on our doorstep.

Let this not be lost on any of us. It is time to act. Call your legislator and let him or her know that you are in favor of spending dimes to generate dollars.

02.09.07

2007 State of the Commonwealth Address – WEG

Posted in Government, Governor Fletcher, Kentucky, News Worthy at 5:41 am by Thomas

Governor Fletcher’s State of the Commonwealth Address was some 29 pages long. In the portion dealing with the World Equestrian Games the Governor made some key points but still seems to be not driving home just what these Games will mean for the Commonwealth. He made the point of saying again that after they went to Aachen they realized they had more work to do. Now one thing to keep in mind, the Germans do a suburb job of planning and hosting such events and may be near the best in the world at it. So with Kentucky being next in line, the bar has been set high, but the Germans have clearly shown us the mark we have to beat.

Of course the real point of his remarks was to ask for an additional $38 million to be allocated this year because the concern is that if they wait until the 2008 Legislative Session there will not be enough time to complete everything. That is a legitimate concern, but I think the Governor would of been better served talking about the importance of the Games to the Commonwealth of Kentucky because that is the bigger problem. Which of course explains why a number of Law Makers came out and said there was no way his request would even be heard this year, as they said, this isn’t a budgetary session. More importantly its an election year and the Governor is not likely to get that money because he asked for it in a public forum.

The full speech can be had here.

02.02.07

William Shatner joins comission.

Posted in 2010 Games, News Worthy at 10:44 pm by Thomas

William Shatner made the first meeting of the Governor’s advisory commission to discuss the planning of the Games in 2010. Shatner is expected to be a regular on the committee from here on out. Shatner is a long time equestrian and American Saddlebred breeder and showman. Of course most people know him from Boston Legal as Denny Crane or more notably as James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise of Star Trek fame.

Governor Fletcher backs additional funds for the Horse Park.

Posted in 2010 Games, Government, Governor Fletcher, Kentucky, KyHP Funding, News Worthy at 5:24 pm by Thomas

Governor Fletcher is pushing to get another $38 million to improve road infrastructure in the Kentucky Horse Park as well as to jump start the Newtown Pike improvements plus upgrading the currently planned arenas. This money would come from the $279 million surplus the state has with the expectation that this money would be available this year instead of having to wait to be put in as part of next years State budget. Indications are that the Governor is receiving recommendations to make the Kentucky Horse Park the top notch equestrian facility we know it can be. Even more to our delight the word has been put out that the State would be interested in landing future FEI World Equestrian Games. Now we will not take credit for seeding that idea but we are certainly going to do all we can do to see that goal accomplished.