Kentucky opens $US45m indoor arena

July 16, 2009

It seats 5700 people. The equine surface covers the area of a football field. There's a warmup barn and ring, and 20,000 feet of exhibitor space. Welcome to Kentucky's new $US45 million indoor arena.

"If one were to chronicle the highlights of the past decade at the Kentucky Horse Park ... the opening of our new indoor arena stands as the crowning achievement," said John Nicholson, Executive Director of the park.


Inside the new arena: the World Equestrian Games reining test event will be the first event at the facility. It starts on Monday.


The arena was designed by GBBN Architects and built by DW Wilburn, a Lexington company. It was designed specifically for the park, after consultations with the leaders of numerous equestrian disciplines, so that it would be the most versatile and user-friendly facility possible.

While designed for equestrian competition, the arena will also be used frequently for other types.

Special features include 5700 stadium seats and nine suites with 200 seats, a 135 x 300-foot event floor (equal to one football field or four basketball courts) with a special equine surface, 20,000 square feet of exhibitor space, six concession areas, a warm-up barn, outdoor warm-up ring, a high-tech sound system, 568 parking spaces, and bathrooms with 91 stalls.

Additionally, the fundraising arm of the park, the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, is in the process of constructing a three-barn complex with 312 stalls next to the arena, to provide stabling for the thousands of horses who will compete in the arena.

These state-of-the-art barns, funded entirely by the private sector, will allow the Kentucky Horse Park to serve as a competition facility 365 days a year.

Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear, special guest speaker at the opening, said: "This arena is not just a contribution to the horse industry; it will have a positive effect across the commonwealth [of Kentucky].

"Every citizen in each corner of the Kentucky can take pride in this arena because we will all reap the rewards in terms of additional business and increased awareness around the world."

Hiw wife, Jane Beshear, is an accomplished horsewoman whose involvement with the Kentucky Horse Park began in the late 1970s as a volunteer for Equestrian Events, Inc, the organising body for the Rolex Kentucky Three Day event, and continued as a member of the Kentucky Horse Park Commission and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and then as a competitive rider.

She observed: "Representatives from a wide variety of equestrian disciplines were integral in the design process to ensure that this facility would meet the needs of the horses and people who will be competing here. There isn't another equine centre in the world that offers the breadth of competition facilities that are now available at the Kentucky Horse Park."

The arena is already booked with about 30 events. Among those contracted to use the arena is the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010. The first event to take place will be next week's World Equestrian Games' Reining Test Event, from July 20-23.

Nicholson added: "We are grateful to Kentucky's General Assembly which has been so supportive of this and the other capital improvement projects here at the park. We applaud their foresight and vision in recognising the long-term benefits that this arena will provide to Kentucky's citizens.

"We are very proud to be in a position to draw business into this area to contribute to the prosperity of the commonwealth."