If you were a competitor, spectator, volunteer or even an avid follower at home, your participation in this year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games counted.
Kentucky bid for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2004. Now, after 6 years of planning and preparation, the first WEG held on U.S. soil came to an end on Oct. 10. There were 81 medals awarded in an event involving enough speculation, scandal and Totilas to put any drugstore mystery novel to shame, but the real impact of the WEG lies in the numbers behind the scenes.
There were 752 horses and 632 athletes from 58 countries who attended the WEG, as well as 507,022 spectators, 62,707 schoolchildren (who took approximately 200 Hershey’s Kisses from The Chronicle of the Horse booth) and 6,000 volunteers. They paid for 411,023 tickets, parked 112,368 cars (and waited an average of 2.5 hours to get out of the Spy Coast parking lot after the Grand Prix freestyle), ate 1.1 million meals and drank more than 100,000 beers. Of the waste produced, 175,220 pounds were recyclable and compostable materials, and 56 percent of all the waste was diverted from landfills through green initiatives.
The WEG sent out 514 press releases for the event, 64 of which were announcements of official sponsorships or products. This does not include the vast number of press releases the Chronicle received from various brands to announce that their product was to be worn/used/thought about by one of the WEG competitors.
In all, 11,000 signs, 70 power generators, 20,000 temporary seats, 500 (not enough) temporary toilets and 59 miles of electrical cable were set up in the Kentucky Horse Park for the event, and 396 temporary structures were assembled.
The special WEG forum on the Chronicle Forums hosted 373 new threads (including one thread about Waffle House and one about whether “hobo carts” would be permitted within the WEG show grounds) with
5,240 replies. As Chronicle staffers live blogged from the sidelines, they were joined by 4,336 people, and www.chronofhorse.com received 3,279,426 hits during the Games.
As far as controversy goes, it only took 3 seconds for a commentator to announce on-air that Moorlands Totilas had been sold, approximately .3 seconds for the rumor to make it to the Internet and 15 days for his owners to make the official announcement that the horse had been sold to German breeder Paul Schockemöhle for an estimated $21 million.
It took an entire day of competition for the para-dressage officials to realize that the arena was 4 meters too long, and it only took 1 security breach for someone to sabotage a $40,000 carriage the night before the four-in-hand driving marathon.
The Kentucky government spent $102 million on improvements to the Park. Alltech spent $10 million on the title sponsorship and an estimated additional $22 million rescuing the WEG from financial trouble.
The pre-estimated economic impact of the WEG was $167 million. The Kentucky Cabinet of Tourism has commissioned a study to be done in the next few months to learn the final figures.
The 2014 WEG will be held in Normandy, France, and Michael Stone, president of Equestrian Sports Productions, plans to bid for the 2018 WEG to be held at the Palm Beach International Center in Wellington, Fla.