View Full Version : OPENING A SHOW FACILITY??!! YES or NO?

Mar. 13, 2012, 06:06 PM
Hi All,

I'm needing some advice from horse-show people. It has always been a dream of mine, to run my own horse-show facility. I have some extra money right now, and I am thinking of opening a new horse-show facility in Georgia near Augusta. The question is, are enough people still going to shows to make it my dream a good business idea? I know the economy has killed a lot of horse show going, but I still know many people who do still go faithfully. My facility would be multi-purpose from Hunters some weekends to Rodeos on other weekends. What does everyone think of this business venture? In this economy, is it a good idea, or a bad one?? Any input would be greatly appreciated. It has always been my dream, but I don't want to make a bad decision based on emmotions. Please help. Thank you in advance for your help.

Mar. 13, 2012, 06:33 PM
Well like any business, you will have to do a fair bit of research, and put together a business plan. You need to weight ALL of the costs (facilities, permits, insurance etc) against the possible income.

Would this be an all cash deal, or will you need to get financing in place?

In my area, show facilities DO NOT make money, and usually rely on a network of donors and members to keep the place open.

I would say right now is a hard time to open a new facility when so many shows have decreased entries.

But it all depends on what you want to get out of it. If you want to make money, or break even, I think it will be hard. If you have extra cash you want to pour into something you love, it might work.

Mar. 13, 2012, 07:02 PM
You might want to check were the nearest shows are happening to your where your facility will be to make sure you can host usef shows. Mileage rule may squash your dream of hosting rated horse shows.

Mar. 13, 2012, 07:03 PM
I second the having to do enough research for it to be successful. Are you aiming for just horse shows or a multi-use facility? I'd also be asking horse show associations in your area what they pay to rent facilities and what they'd be willing to pay and factor that into your plans. You don't want to build a gorgeous facility and have nobody rent it because the shows can't afford to rent it. Also you have to factor in how long it's going to take. Go to your local horse council, if you have one, and get suggestions on their ideal facilities and set-ups.

I think you'd be better off with a multi use facility where other events could use the indoor, etc. A greater market available.

Mar. 13, 2012, 08:02 PM
I'm not sure if you are planning to buy an existing facility or build one, but definitely make sure there is enough interest to have it rented year-round. Just one big show won't be enough to cover your overhead.

I would definitely be in contact with local associations to find out what needs they have.

Mar. 13, 2012, 08:16 PM
NO - unless you really love money pits.

TPF Hunter
Mar. 13, 2012, 09:20 PM
The Augusta area may be too close to Highfields in Aiken, SC. Although they do not host western shows, breed shows or rodeos, they do have something going on almost every weekend for hunter/jumpers and sometimes Dressage I think.

Don't quote me on this, and someone please correct me should I be mistaken ...BUT I am fairly certain that the owners of Highfields also own Progressive Show Jumping ( h/j circuit) which is based out of that facility. I cannot comment on whether they rake in a ton of revenue, but they have been adding to their facility and hosting many many many shows so they can't be hurting.



To add to this, there is an amazing show facility in Camden, SC that started out hosting every type of show and rodeo you can imagine, Westfall Arena at the time. The venue was NEVER vacant and Mr.Westfall (owner/manager) did very well for himself. However he did sell the facility to someone that ended up only hosting hunter/jumper shows and the place was rarely ever booked and eventually went under. Needless to say the western shows, 4H and rodeos were Westfall Arenas's "bread and butter". NOW the facility has been taken over by the county and completely renovated and its thriving with business and bringing in a ton of revenue to the surrounding hotels and restaurants.


Basically if you are going to open up a venue, it is a good idea (as the OP stated) to be open minded to all the horsey sports. I do think it would cost a TON of money to start up and to maintain. I'm thinking on top of initial planning, land, permits and contracts you need jumps, tractors, irrigation system, fencing, stabling, paddocks, quality footing, office, bathrooms and the list goes on. I think its a beautiful dream, just an expensive one :D

Mar. 15, 2012, 08:52 AM
You might want to obtain the White Paper on the proposed "International Horse Park" being discussed in Aiken currently from the Chamber of Commerce. That will have some pertinent info for you. Some stats were presented at the "town meeting" this week in Aiken regarding other "horse parks" not being profitable at all. Mixed use seemed a logical condition i.e. benched dog shows etc. Incorporating a dirt bike track also mentioned, but yuk.

Mar. 16, 2012, 09:04 AM
Show facilities do not make money unless you can find a way to use them 365 days a year. It is a money pit in an economy that probably will never recover to the glory days of the early to mid 2000's. Just like boarding businesses, the business model just does not work unless you can cater to the upper crust (read WEF, HITS, etc). Look at Culpepper. It is literally falling down. If it were making money don't you think it would be better repair? Look at the Virginia Horse Center. It has so much deferred maintenance, talking millions of dollars.