The best athletes in equestrian sports from around the world will be competing at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina next month.
Meanwhile, many of the humans taking part in the World Equestrian Games will be staying at hotels in nearby Spartanburg.
“This is one of those once in a lifetime — that you don’t really plan for and they’re 30 miles away from us,” Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Vice President Chris Jennings said. “We’re really excited about having those athletes and spectators here in the Upstate . . . our hotels are ecstatic.”
Jennings said more than 6,000 hotel rooms are under contract for the duration of the games. Many are reserved for the International Federation for Equestrian Sports and the competing teams.
“Spartanburg is very happy to be the closest city to the equestrian games,” Jennings said. But other cities aren’t so far away from Mill Spring, North Carolina either. Asheville is 40 minutes away by car, Greenville is a one-hour drive away, while Charlotte is 80 minutes away.
“We’re in the middle nowhere but in the center of everything,” Tryon International Equestrian Center Chief Operating Officer Sharon Decker said.
“It’s a big deal,” she said. “It’s a big deal economically as well. If we take what we learned from Normandy, France, which hosted the games four years ago and the experience in Lexington, Kentucky when the World Games were there in 2010, we would anticipate economic impact to exceed 260 million.”
Regionwide, that economic impact could reach as high as $500 million.
Decker said more than 400,000 people are expected to attend over the event’s two weeks. Jennings wants them to visit Spartanburg while they’re there.
“It’s not very far away,” Jennings said. “You can come and enjoy some great Southern hospitality.”
Jennings said Spartanburg has 3,500 hotel rooms per night. Decker said before they could offer a bid on the games, Tryon had to prove there were 32,000 room nights available within a 90-minute drive from the venue.
Decker said tickets have been sold so far in all 50 states and more than 24 countries. Athletes from more than 70 countries will be competing.
Athletes compete in eight events, including three which are Olympic sports: jumping, eventing, dressage and para-dressage, driving, reining, vaulting and endurance.
“It’s the highest level of competition in equestrian sport worldwide,” Decker said. Although the town had only 19 months to plan for this event when the original host withdrew its bid, Decker hopes Tryon will bring the games back.
“Typically countries or locations would have four to five years to plan. We are fortunate that we are holding this in an existing facility,” she said.
Jennings said he wants the region to make a good impression now so the federation will consider Tryon as a host again.
“We want the customers, the consumers, the fans to have a great experience as well as the owners and the teams. So we hope it’s not a one-off,” he said. Our goal is to get them to come back like I think Tryon Equestrian Center is wanting them to do.”
The World Equestrian Games are September 12-23. Click here for more information.
Applications are being accepted for event volunteers. Click here to apply.