The Tryon International Equestrian Center, near Mill Spring, North Carolina, recently announced that it has been chosen to be the location of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games September 10 through 23, 2018. FEI attributed their decision to North Carolina’s infrastructure and the state-of-the-art facilities found at Tryon International. This will have far reaching consequences for the area and could be considered a major coup for North and South Carolina. “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,” Mark Bellissimo said (Bellissimo is managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners). “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.”
“I am confident that North Carolina will host the best games yet before the eyes of the world,” said Governor McCrory. “With the potential to be the largest sporting event in our state’s history, we look forward to welcoming competitors and spectators from around the world. This announcement will be a significant boost to North Carolina’s rapidly growing economy.”
TIEC has already become a welcomed economic engine for the region. The impact has had a far reaching effect on many businesses. The future impact of the Games will undoubtedly extend up to and beyond Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory in North Carolina and Greenville and Spartanburg in South Carolina. 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. In addition, TEP estimates it will invest an additional $100 million dollars over the next two years during phase two of its development, which is primarily focused on resort amenities including lodging and hospitality elements.
Every four years, halfway between sets of consecutive Summer Olympic Games, the FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale, the worldwide governing body of equestrian sport) World Equestrian Games are held. The Games 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. Riders and horses competing at WEG go through a rigorous selection process, and each participating country sends teams that have distinguished themselves through competition as the nation’s best in each respective discipline.
Two years ago, the Games were hosted by Normandy, France. The 14-day event had a local economic impact of $414 million or 368 million euros and attracted more than 500,000 spectators from over 70 countries for the 14-day event. In 2010 it was held in Lexington, Kentucky, at the Kentucky Horse Park which was the first time the World Equestrian Games have been held outside of Europe.
Two years ago 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 a premiere equestrian lifestyle destination. 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.
FEI President Ingmar de Vos said. “The Tryon team submitted a really impressive bid, and we have every confidence in the organizing 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.”