Lexington, Ky., July 15, 2009 -- Today, the Kentucky Horse Park secured its position as the world's leading equestrian venue with the opening of a $45-million, state-of-the-art indoor arena.
"If one were to chronicle the highlights of the past decade at the Kentucky Horse Park, a decade already distinguished by significant accomplishments, the opening of our new indoor arena stands as the crowning achievement," noted John Nicholson, Executive Director of the park. "Today the Kentucky Horse Park, together with Governor and Mrs. Steven Beshear, the General Assembly, civic leaders and citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky celebrate not only the opening of this impressive structure, but also the successful partnership that produced it, and the legacy of benefits that will flow from it for decades to come."
The arena was designed by GBBN Architects (offices in Lexington and Louisville), 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 competition types.
Special features include 5,700 stadium seats and nine suites with 200 suite seats, a 135 x 300-foot event floor (equal to one football field or four basketball courts) with special equine surface, 20,000 square feet of exhibitor space, six concession areas, a warm-up barn, outdoor warm-up ring, 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 adjacent 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, making the park even more attractive to potential horse shows currently held in other states.
Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear, today's special guest speaker, stated, "This arena is not just a contribution to the horse industry--it will have a positive effect across the commonwealth. 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."
The First Lady, 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 organizing 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 center 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 approximately 30 events. Among the events contracted to use the arena is the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in 2010. The first event to take place will be next week's WEG Reining Test Event, July 20-23.