Council: Hosting WEG Exciting Idea, But Need Info

Wellington officials Tuesday made efforts to dispel the impression by some that they are not supportive of the community’s bid to host the World Equestrian Games in 2018.

Wellington Village Council members noted that they are still in the process of seeking more information before making a formal decision on the bid.

Council members asked Village Manager Paul Schofield to address the issue.

“The council in general is favorable toward the idea,” Schofield said. “We need to identify what the potential issues are, see if they are resolvable, and then deal with things like infrastructure, costs and what would be expected from the Village of Wellington. That’s all information that we don’t have yet.”

Wellington made the short list earlier this month as one of five possible hosts for the 2018 World Equestrian Games. Staged every four years, the competition is considered the world championships of international equestrian disciplines.

Vice Mayor Howard Coates noted that he wanted more information before making a formal declaration of support. “I’m certainly in favor of exploring it,” he said. “But exploring it is different than saying we support it.”

Council members heard a presentation on the games at an agenda review meeting Monday.

Schofield said he’d been asked for an update on what the village did or did not know about the World Equestrian Games.

“We have not received a formal proposal, though myself and the mayor did meet with [Equestrian Sport Productions President] Michael Stone and another representative last week, where they provided us with a copy of the bid package,” Schofield said.

Equestrian Sport Productions, the company which produces the Winter Equestrian Festival, initially announced their bid for the 2018 games two years ago and submitted an application. The bid award is expected next spring.

“We had not been part of that application,” Schofield said.

But council members were tentatively in favor of the games, if all the logistics could be worked out, Schofield said.

“The discussion we had last night was that hosting the World Equestrian Games would be a good thing for Wellington, if we could examine what the obstacles are and find out if there is a way to go through them,” he said.

Coates said he felt Wellington needs to be careful about its message of support or lack thereof.

“I think we need to be very careful about the public expression of support or lack of support at this point, because there is so much in my mind, as far as information that we don’t have,” he said. “We haven’t studied the impact, both positive and negative.”

Coates said he has concerns about the fact that Lexington, Ky., which hosted the 2010 games, saw 600,000 people in a 14-day period.

“I have questions as to whether we have the infrastructure — the roads and other things to support that sort of crowd coming in,” he said.

Coates said that he thought the event could be good for Wellington but wanted more information.

“I just wonder if by saying that we’re supporting it, or that we like the idea, that we’re saying too much given the lack of information we currently have,” he said. “I’ll go on record saying that it certainly sounds like a good idea, but I, for one, need a whole lot more information.”

Schofield said the council instructed him to open dialogue on the subject. “We have to understand that the games are six years away, but they need to complete their application by December,” he said. “They needed some basic conversation from us as to whether we were willing to entertain discussion at all by mid-July.”

Schofield said he would work to collect the necessary information and see if it is possible to bring the event to Wellington. He noted that Equestrian Sport Productions President Michael Stone would give a formal presentation to the council on July 9.