Hungary pulls out of WEG 2018 contention

The closing ceremony at the Games was headlined by Lyle Lovett, and featured a special thank-you to volunteers and closing words from some of the organisers and sponsors.
The closing ceremony at WEG 2010 was headlined by musician Lyle Lovett. © Alltech

Hungary has withdrawn from the bidding process to stage the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018.

Its capital Budapest had been named as one of the five 2018 bid cities earlier this month, but in a letter to FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos this week, the President of the Hungarian National Federation Vilmos Lázár confirmed that the Hungarian bid has now been withdrawn.

In the letter Lázár stated that the Hungarian Federation’s Board had made the decision to withdraw the Budapest bid as there were two candidates from the same region. Hungary’s immediate neighbour, Austria, is also one of the official candidates to host the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018.

Lázár said that his Board hoped that the withdrawal of the Hungarian bid would enhance the chances of Austria staging the Games in 2018.

“Of course we are sad to lose the Hungarian bid for 2018,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said, “but we respect the National Federation’s decision and admire its generous support of the neighbouring bid from Austria. We still have four very strong candidates in the mix and it will be a very exciting bidding process. We very much look forward to welcoming them all to FEI Headquarters next month.”

The four countries in the running to host the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018 are Rabat (Morocco); Bromont (Canada); Vienna (Austria) and Wellington (USA). Bidding teams from the four bid cities will come to FEI Headquarters in Lausanne for a meeting on 11 July.

• Canada’s bid city of Bromont held the last North American qualifying eventing competition leading up to the London Olympic Games.

The Bromont Equestrian Park, located in south-east of Montreal in the eastern townships, together with the City of Montreal were host to the 1976 summer games.

Mike Gallagher, president of Equine Canada, and a member of the Bromont Bid Committee said the team was now entering the second phase of the bid process, “and will be reaching out across the country for input from all of our disciplines, potential partners, organizers and stakeholders as we move forward together as Canadians to bring the World Equestrian Games to our country.”

“As a result of hosting this event, we stand to generate millions of dollars in economic spin-offs, not to mention the creation of a world class equestrian centre capable of year-round training and competitions for decades to come.”

The Bromont Bid Committee will travel to FEI Headquarters in Lausanne for a special briefing on July 11, along with the three other bidders. The Committee has until December 15, 2012 to submit its official host bid package and will receive a delegation from the FEI for a site inspection between July and then. A decision will be announced in the spring of 2013.

• Wellington, the home of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) , has been selected as the proposed host city for the USA bid, led by Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP).

ESP has estimated WEG visitors would spend 260,000 bed nights in South Florida, 25,000 of them in Palm Beach County for the event in October, a bonus for Florida’s tourist industry that peaks over the winter months. Wellington is close to major tourist attractions including Miami and the Everglades, as well as Disney World, Universal Studios, and other major attractions in Orlando, about a 2.5-hour drive.

A study by Deloitte, commissioned by the FEI, found that the WEG in Aachen, Germany, in 2006 had an economic impact of $291 million, $41 million more than Super Bowl XLIV in Miami in 2010. The economic impact of the 2010 Kentucky WEG was put at $233 million. At the Kentucky WEG, spectator spending was almost $100 million, plus $11 million in team expenditures and $45 million for event management, sponsors, trade stands and the media, according to the Deloitte study.

Organisers say no outside financing-including taxpayer money-would be needed to stage the WEG at Wellington. Operations and additional capital improvements would be funded from ongoing operations and sponsorship. While $80 million was spent building new outdoor and indoor arenas and other upgrades at the state-owned Kentucky Horse Park for the 2010 WEG, most of the capital improvements required at a WEG in Wellington have already been made and were self-funded on an ongoing basis.

With the completion of the new dressage facility that includes one of the world’s largest covered arenas, ESP would only have to determine the land used for eventing’s cross-country and driving’s marathon courses, along with endurance. For the cross-country and driving marathon courses, local golf courses can be used, while endurance could leverage Wellington’s extensive bridle trail system.

• The FEI World Equestrian Games are held every four years, in the middle of the Olympic cycle. The seven FEI disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining – are all included on the competition schedule.

The inaugural FEI World Equestrian Games were hosted in Stockholm (SWE) in 1990. Since then the Games have been staged in The Hague (NED) in 1994, Rome (ITA) in 1998, Jerez (ESP) in 2002, and Aachen (GER) in 2006. The first Games to be staged outside Europe were the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky (USA) 2010. The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 will be held in Caen, France.

The World Equestrian Games bring about a half-million spectators and 5,500 volunteers to watch about 650 athletes and 750 horses competing for world championships in dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining, vaulting and para-dressage. About 1600 media representatives from around the world cover the event.

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