Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism was held on Thursday, June 17, 2010, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Eddie Ballard, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Eddie Ballard, Co-Chair; Senators Julian M. Carroll, Julie Denton, Denise Harper Angel, Ray S. Jones II, Jerry P. Rhoads, Katie Kratz Stine, Gary Tapp, Robin L. Webb, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Linda Belcher, Kevin D. Bratcher, John "Bam" Carney, Leslie Combs, Will Coursey, Jim DeCesare, Mike Denham, Bob M. DeWeese, Myron Dossett, Kelly Flood, Jim Gooch Jr., Mike Harmon, Dennis Horlander, Dennis Keene, Thomas Kerr, Martha Jane King, Adam Koenig, Tom McKee, Terry Mills, Tim Moore, Fred Nesler, David Osborne, Don Pasley, Dottie Sims, Fitz Steele, Ron Weston, Addia Wuchner, and Jill York.
Guests: John Nicholson, Executive Director, Kentucky Horse Park and Jamie Link, Chief Executive Officer, World Games 2010 Foundation, Inc.
Legislative Guests: Senator Damon Thayer
LRC Staff: John Buckner, Committee Staff Administrator; Karen Armstrong-Cummings, Louis DiBiase, and Dawn Johnson.
2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
Speaking before the committee as one of the legislative representatives on the Governor’s Advisory Commission for the World Equestrian Games, Senator Damon Thayer gave an update on statewide events occurring during the World Equestrian Games (WEG). Senator Thayer said there are many planned activities outside of the Horse Park grounds including international equine expos in downtown Lexington and Georgetown. He noted that state funds were invested in the games indirectly by making much needed improvements to the Horse Park, the foremost equine venue in North America, and its infrastructure, allowing the park to compete with larger venues in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Columbus, and Indianapolis. In addition, once the games are over, the legacy of the Horse Park and the improvements that were made in preparation for the WEG will benefit generations to come.
John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park, said the reason the games were being held outside of Europe for the first time was because of the Horse Park’s reputation. He said construction is complete and the park is ready to host the games. Over the last thirty months, 12 major projects have been completed. Of the $110 million invested, approximately $80 million were state funds, and these investments were in the park itself and not the WEG. The principle projects were the state-of-the-art climate controlled world class equestrian arena ($42 million), the new outdoor stadium ($25 million), and park infrastructure upgrades. The games have already been a success in terms of legacy -- because of the park renovations, thus far approximately 20 new annual events have been booked at the park. These new events alone will soon equal the economic impact of the games. Some of the newly acquired events include the Intercollegiate National Championships for Horses, the Arabian Sport Horse National Championships, and the East Coast Reigning Championships. The outdoor stadium will host the North American Junior and Young Riders National Championships who have committed for three consecutive years, the United States Equestrian Federation Junior Hunter National Championships, and the United States Equestrian Federation National Pony Finals.
Mr. Nicholson said the Horse Park Museum is now featuring A Gift From the Desert, which is a major art and artifacts exhibit, and the exhibition will run throughout the games. This is the third historic international exhibition that has been featured at the park, the first featured art from China, much of which had never been out of the country before, and the second featured equine related art from Great Britain. A Gift From The Desert exhibition, which is funded privately by the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation and other Middle East equestrian federations, celebrates the early domestication of the horse and the development of the Arabian horse. He noted that the park reaches out to other cultures to honor a shared association with the horse. With the award of the games, a group of American Arabian horse enthusiasts raised $10 million to fund an expansion to the International Museum of the Horse at the park which opened several weeks ago. It features the Almara Arabian Galleries and a state-of-the-art, interactive experience that explores the Arabian horse.
Mr. Nicholson explained the energy saving contract performance plan the park entered into. The plan began by an audit of the park’s energy usage, and from that data, capital investment recommendations were made. The park was given a low-interest loan with guaranteed energy savings results based on the recommendations. Included in the recommendations was the installation of a $5.7 million biomass gasification plant designed to burn horse waste to turn it into a sterilized, nutrient-filled fertilization powder. The plant also produces electricity that is returned to the power grid. The park recognized an immediate savings of $250,000 annually—the cost of horse waste removal. The park’s carbon footprint was reduced as well.
Mr. Nicholson discussed the festive nature of the 2010 WEG. The Equine Village will celebrate the diversity of all horse breeds with exhibits and demonstrations featuring over 500 horses, 40 equine organizations, 150 clinicians, and a wide variety of entertainment acts that include a Dakota Sioux Indian tribe exhibit, Equimania, a children’s interactive program, and demonstrations by the National Cutting Horse Association. He noted that the remains of Lexington -- a horse that was instrumental in putting Kentucky on the map in the thoroughbred industry after the Civil War -- will be moved from the Smithsonian Institution where he has stood since 1870 to the Horse Park. Lastly, Mr. Nicholson said that Elvis Presley’s horse riding equipment, on loan from Graceland, will be on display throughout the games.
Mr. Jamie Link, Chief Executive Officer of the World Games 2010 Foundation, Inc. explained that with the Horse Park construction complete, the WEG preparations will begin next week with the installation of temporary seating and a temporary driving stadium. Three hundred temporary structures will be erected ranging in size from 10 square feet to 30,000 square feet. On May 1, per Federation Equestrian Internationale (FEI) rules, 62 countries submitted "entries of intent" to send participants. By comparison, the 2006 WEG held in Aachen, Germany games had 59 countries to compete. August 16th is the deadline to submit definite entries. To date, over 900 horses and approximately 1,000 athletes will compete in the 2010 games. This number may decrease but a strong showing is anticipated.
The foundation is working closely with the Horse Park to ensure the games will benefit the park’s ongoing operations. Throughout June, approximately 500 of the 2,000 Kentucky volunteers are being trained per week. With a full-time staff of 45 people, the foundation needs 7,000 volunteers for the 16-day event. Many of the volunteers are from other countries and they are paying for their own travel and accommodations. Volunteers can bring their families on days when they are not working and enjoy the events as spectators. Meals and uniforms will be provided.
The foundation has entered into its final marketing phase. The first two phases focused primarily on national and international markets that may require more time to make travel arrangements. The third phase will be more locally and regionally focused as the strongest market is in Kentucky and contiguous states. Marketing will directed toward regional centers such as Indianapolis and Nashville. Since hotel accommodations are a great concern, the foundation has worked with the industry to promote hotels throughout the state.
Mr. Link said ticket sales are strong but not as strong as they would like—most likely due to the economic downturn and many people who are waiting to make purchasing decisions. Empirical data suggests more people plan to attend but have yet to purchase tickets. According to travel representatives the European market is currently involved in the World Cup and will focus on the equestrian games once that is over. Since the WEGs have never taken place in the United States, the foundation has had to build from the ground up. He noted that the projected $150 million economic impact given by Dr. Paul Coomes of the University of Louisville has been revised to $167 million. He said events like the games draw corporate attention to the state for future economic endeavors.
Chairman Ballard asked that LRC staff be given periodical updates to forward to the committee members for publicity purposes. Mr. Link agreed and noted that the foundation has been working with Senator Thayer and Representative Westrom, the games’ legislative liaisons to the General Assembly as well.
Senator Thayer explained the main events of the world equestrian games. He noted that a grounds pass ticket is available that will give access the park without having to attend a specific event. Mr. Link added that the Tourism Cabinet will host “The Kentucky Experience,” a representation of the nine tourism districts in the state as well as a pavilion that will offer Kentucky products including Kentucky Proud produce, bourbon, and arts and crafts. A third pavilion will house Kentucky entertainment.
Senator Webb expressed concern about negative press on the equine industry that has circulated recently.
Responding to questions from Representatives Denham, Mr. Link said anyone interested in volunteering for the games should visit the WEG website. In addition, through a group effort between the University of Kentucky, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the equine industry, a quarantine facility has been set up to monitor all horses coming to the park. Only competition horses that have been tested for equine pyroplasmosis will be allowed onto the grounds. Competition horses will be flown into the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati Airport and will be quarantined for the requisite 42 hours. Also, measures have been taken to eradicate the tick population on park grounds. Mr. Nicholson added that the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Center did an exhaustive white paper on any potential threat. The resulting protocol being used was designed by the American Horse Council, the Health and Welfare Committee, the state veterinarian and the USDA.
Mr. Nicholson pointed out that the games will be broadcast to over 500 million people worldwide.
In response to Senator Harper Angel’s question, Mr. Link said that the Kentucky State Police are responsible for security at the park and they in turn are working with Lexington Metro Police, Scott County law enforcement, Louisville Metro Police as well as the Alcohol, Tobacco, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Homeland Security, and the United States Secret Service regarding all aspects of the games as this is an international event which will be attended by heads of state and royal families.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 2:35 PM.