The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism was held on Thursday, October 15, 2009, at 9:30 AM, in the new indoor arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. Senator Alice Forgy Kerr, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Alice Forgy Kerr, Co-Chair; Representative Eddie Ballard, Co-Chair; Senators Julian M. Carroll, Julie Denton, Denise Harper Angel, Katie Kratz Stine, Gary Tapp, Robin L Webb, Jack Westwood, and Ken Winters; Representatives Royce W. Adams, John "Bam" Carney, Leslie Combs, Will Coursey, Mike Denham, Ted Edmonds, Kelly Flood, Jim Gooch Jr., Mike Harmon, Melvin B. Henley, Dennis Horlander, Joni L. Jenkins, Dennis Keene, Thomas Kerr, Martha Jane King, Adam Koenig, Tom McKee, Tim Moore, Fred Nesler, David Osborne, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Don Pasley, Ancel Smith, Fitz Steele, Tommy Thompson, and Addia Wuchner.
Legislative Guests: Representatives John Will Stacy and Susan Westrom.
Guests: John Nicholson, Executive Director, Kentucky Horse Park; Jamie Link, Chief Executive Officer, World Games 2010 Foundation, Inc.; Martine Head, Longitude Farm, Deauville, France; and Marcheta Sparrow, Secretary, Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.
LRC Staff: John Buckner, Committee Staff Administrator; Karen Armstrong-Cummings; Louis Pierce; and Dawn Johnson.
Co-chair Kerr welcomed everyone to the joint meeting of the Interim Joint Committees on Economic Development and Tourism, and Labor and Industry. Co-Chair Ballard thanked the Kentucky Horse Park for their hospitality.
Senator Carroll noted the ongoing progress of the Horse Park since the 1970s and its first hosting of the Rolex three-day event to the upcoming 2010 World Equestrian Games.
A motion and second by Representative Edmonds and Senator Stine to approve the minutes of the September 17, 2009, Economic Development and Tourism meeting were approved by voice vote.
Representative Hoffman welcomed everyone to the Horse Park.
Representative Edmonds introduced thoroughbred owner and breeder Martine Head of Deauville, France. Ms. Head expressed concern that marketing efforts in Europe and elsewhere for the World Equestrian Games were lagging. She said Europeans involved in equestrian events may not be aware of the significant work in place at the Horse Park for the 2010 Games. She said the 2014 Games will not be able to offer the same caliber of facilities as those in the United States at the Horse Park. She suggested getting not only those involved in the world games but participants of others equestrian events as well.
Responding to Representative Pasley’s question, Ms. Head said that as an observer, the 2010 Games are not featured enough in Europe. She suggested increasing public relations efforts in Europe as she feared that people would regret not coming once they see the games unfold.
Representative Wuchner asked if marketing the games as a holiday with side trips would be more interesting for the European traveler. Ms. Head noted that children will be in school in September so it is not a holiday period in Europe. She suggested partnering with European sister cities such as Deauville, France, Kildaire, Ireland, and Shizuoka, Japan.
Next, John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park, gave an update on the preparations at the Horse Park for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Mr. Nicholson said the new indoor arena has already hosted several successful events. He said beyond the 2010 Games, the facility was needed as the park had outgrown its existing facilities. The new arena allows the park to be competitive in attracting future events and noted that the arena is already booked for 27 events outside of the World Equestrian Games.
Mr. Nicholson said the genesis behind the Horse Park was John Gaines work to create a people’s horse farm. It allowed visitors to experience Kentucky’s equine heritage. The Horse Park evolved and has been successful in equine entertainment and education. Part of that success is the International Museum of the Horse which will host the international exhibit titled “A Gift from the Desert,” in 2010--a $3 million exhibit funded principally by the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation. It will feature priceless art and artifacts featuring the Arabian horse.
Mr. Nicholson said that the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation was formed to allow private money to fund facilities for horse shows. Currently, there are over 70 national and international events. The original intent was for private organizations to be headquartered at the park. In 1986, the American Saddlebred Association opened their national headquarters and museum at the park. To date, there are 35 organizations headquartered at the park including the United States Equestrian Federation. Mr. Nicholson noted the number of private sector employees who work at the park, stating the best type of public investment is one which fosters private investment within Kentucky’s signature industry. Through the partnership with the Equestrian Federation the Horse Park heightened its profile nationally and internationally in an effort to secure the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Mr. Nicholson noted the importance of the British exhibit and the Imperial China exhibit because they fostered international relations as will the World Equestrian Games. He pointed out that the 2010 Games are the first to have a name sponsor. The sponsor, Alltech, Inc., is an international cutting-edge biotechnology company headquartered in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He said the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France will carry an Alltech name sponsorship as well.
Mr. Nicholson said the 2010 Equestrian Games would not have been possible without the vision and support of the Kentucky General Assembly. Referring to a construction update handout, Mr. Nicholson said of the approximately $109 million in capital projects at the park, $80 million are state funds. He said the new indoor arena and outdoor stadium have received great reviews and the infrastructure updates were well needed. $28 million in private investments funded construction and renovation of new offices, an addition to the museum, and other facilities on the park grounds.
Responding to Senator Kerr’s question, Mr. Nicholson said they are continuing to promote the games and noted that during the Alltech European Equestrian Championships in England there was a significant promotional effort there as well as at international equestrian events in Toronto Canada.
Responding to Representative Ballard’s question, Mr. Nicholson explained that the World Equestrian Games are similar to the Olympics and are awarded to different areas and countries every four years. The 2014 Games will be in Europe. He said it is a possibility that the games will come back but other international events such as the annual World Cup Championships and the qualifiers for these type events are more promising. He said the Horse Park is now on the “international road” of equestrian sports.
Jamie Link, Chief Executive Officer, World Games 2010 Foundation, Inc. explained that the equestrian games consist of eight world championships of equestrian sport. The 2010 games will be the first to feature eight disciplines and the first to include paraequestrian events. Also, it will be the first time all events will be held in one designated area. The only event not held completely on Horse Park grounds is the 100 mile endurance ride. The Horse Park has partnered with surrounding farms for this event. Mr. Link said the equestrian games will be the largest sporting event in the United States in 2010. It will be the second largest sporting event in North America, second only to the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Mr. Link explained that the World Games Foundation is a self-funded, nonprofit organization. The Foundation receives its revenues from sponsorships, ticket sales, trade show sales, and hospitality sales. It is anticipated that there will be over 500,000 spectators at the 16-day event and 500 million television viewers globally. The initial projected economic impact is $150 million. Mr. Link said hotel rooms and travel arrangements have already been booked. Staffed by approximately 30 people, the Foundation will rely heavily on volunteers for the games, with several thousand volunteers currently registered. The Park will host 1,500 to 2,000 media from around the world.
Mr. Link said ticket sales launched September 25 with over 125,000 sold to date. Through ticket sales the Foundation has obtained one third of their revenue. Mr. Link said although the event has a $76 million budget, the competitions must be flawless, therefore a great deal of resources have been devoted to operations. Other budgetary expenses include 35,000 temporary seats, 300-400 temporary structures as well as transportation and security costs. There will be several hundred motor coaches in to transport attendees to the games daily. The marketing budget is strategically set up to promote the games regionally, nationally, and internationally. The Foundation is working with the International Equestrian Federation, Alltech, Inc., several equine publications and journalists to market the games and will continue to increase marketing in print and electronic media around the world to promote ticket sales. Mr. Link said the Foundation is also working with the Kentucky congressional delegation and federal organizations primarily in areas of transportation and security.
Mr. Link said the “Kentucky Experience,” coordinated by the Tourism Cabinet, will promote state tourism, Kentucky products, and will host Kentucky entertainment. It will be featured in a 25,000 square foot facility in the main trade show area. Mr. Link said the legacy of the first United States sponsored World Equestrian Games is important.
Senator Stine said she had received complaints about the unavailability of hotel rooms. Mr. Link suggested booking travel through the Foundation’s website. He said some periods are being booked faster than others and some hotels are requiring minimum lengths of stay. The average booking is seven days. He said there are rooms available including areas outside of Lexington in central and northern Kentucky as well.
Responding to Senator Stine’s comment, Mr. Link said regional media have been very cooperative in covering the upcoming games. Representatives are also attending core competitions in Europe to promote the games as well as working with the FEI and other media outlets in Europe. He said there is a lot of interest in group tours so they are working with the Tourism Cabinet to coordinate efforts with tour operators in Europe to promote the games. They are also working with other world markets to market the games.
Secretary Sparrow added that six international travel writers who specialize in equine sport are currently in Kentucky touring the area in preparation for the Equestrian Games. She said the cabinet has a public relations firm in London to market in Europe and other efforts include marketing horse shows in Canada. Secretary Sparrow said the cabinet has been working with regional tourism partners in marketing the games.
Senator Westwood asked if there was a transportation plan to get visitors to and from local airports. Mr. Link said shuttle plans are being made for nearby airports including Louisville and northern Kentucky and daily park-and-ride options are being developed as well. Car rental agencies have been contacted regarding their inventories.
Responding to Representative Embry’s question Mr. Link said tickets have been sold to people from all 50 states and over 40 countries. He said Europe will be the strongest market but they are marketing in areas outside of Europe as well.
Representative Carney expressed concern about current financial hardship schools are facing and having to pay a fee for children to tours the Horse Park. He noted the educational importance of children experiencing one of Kentucky’s signature areas. Mr. Nicholson said there are a number of class tours throughout the year. He said that while the fee is a nominal $2 per student he understands the potential hardship. The education department at the park has designed curricula for teachers to use horses to teach various disciplines. He said it is web-based as well. Representative Carney suggested waiving the fee at least for next year. Mr. Nicholson said it was a worthy idea to investigate.
Representative Wuchner noted the differences in European mass transportation and that of the United States and asked if transportation packets had been considered. Mr. Link said they are providing motor coaches and the Tourism Cabinet is working with local governments to incorporate public transit systems to help provide transportation for ancillary travel. Mr. Link said their goal would be to provide free shuttle service from park and ride locations but was unsure if this could be budgeted. If not, they would consider a nominal charge for round trip transportation to and from the park. The volume of visitors in those areas has yet to be determined. Hotel bookings will be used during consideration of this.
Senator Harper Angel asked if information technology was being fully utilized in marketing the games. Mr. Link said IT links were being included wherever possible.
Responding to Senator Harper Angel’s question, Mr. Link said there are significant security plans in the works. There will be many foreign heads of state, royalty, as well as local, state, and national dignitaries. He said there will be perimeter security as well as internal event security in place. He said it is important to be secure without undue intrusiveness. Prohibited items lists will be posted in the parking lot, at the park entrance and on the games website.
Responding to Senator Webb’s question, Mr. Link said for safety reasons there will be a no-dog policy for the games. The Foundation is working with the Lexington Humane Society to provide temporary shelter if needed and many hotels are pet friendly. The no-dog policy will also be publicized. Mr. Nicholson added that dogs are not allowed by orders of the United States Department of Agriculture to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases between dogs and horses. He said dogs will be welcome at the park before and after the games.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 AM.
Following the meeting the committees toured the new facilities at the Horse Park.