HITS Balmoral Park, in partnership with Showplace Productions, opens its gates on May 10. Under the direction of HITS founder and CEO Tom Struzzieri, the nine-decade-old racetrack has a new lease on life as a state-of-the-art show jumping venue. After a 16-month pause, horses will once again roam the grounds at the 200-acre facility just south of Chicago.
“The character, history and sheer scope of Balmoral Park provided an extraordinary slate to develop an exceptional facility to serve the Midwest,” said Struzzieri. “I look forward to welcoming our clients to a full horse show season and providing Chicago easy access to top-notch equestrian sport.”
From what began as one oval, HITS has created nine competition rings—five rings for the hunters and four for the jumpers, including a large grand prix arena. Riders will also see an extraordinary commitment to horse comfort with even more space dedicated for warm-up, and meticulous care to build all new footing with a combination of sand and carpet fibers.
For years, Illinois-based Pat Boyle, head of Showplace Productions, had discussed collaborating with Struzzieri, so when Balmoral Park came on the market, they decided to combine their strengths. Boyle is thrilled to be managing HITS Midwest event as, “Chicago now has a truly world-class equestrian venue to host the most prestigious outdoor international competitions.”
To date, 13 of the old barns have been fully renovated into safe modern stabling to house 800 horses. Additionally, exhibitors will find mindfully located green spaces to walk and hand-graze and dozens of paddocks for turnout. Midwest trainer Scott Gentry gives the new Balmoral Park high marks: “I don’t know if HITS could have done a better job with this one— there’s nothing like it in the Midwest. I will be at every one of those horse shows.”
At HITS Balmoral Park, all rings are visible from the 4,467 seat, climate-controlled grandstand. The grand prix ring is center stage and sits directly in front of the VIP Clubhouse. Former racegoers will recognize the original tote board and finish line from the historic track thoughtfully integrated into the new facility, along with familiar relics, photos and memorabilia throughout.
Balmoral Park will continue to provide upscale, state-of-the art hospitality. With three bars and five foodservice locations, including a coffee shop next to the show office, HITS Balmoral Park will be a treat for exhibitor and spectator, alike.