Kentucky Horse Park Officially Opens New Outdoor Stadium

Thursday, April 23, 2009


New Facility Helps Position Park as the World's Leading Equestrian Venue

LEXINGTON , KY (April 22, 2009)  The new Outdoor Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park officially opened on Wednesday afternoon, April 22.  John Nicholson, Executive Director of the park, along with special guests Governor and Mrs. Steven L. Beshear, welcomed a crowd of government officials, business leaders, equestrian and tourism industry representatives, and the public. Photo courtesy of Messer Construction The new Outdoor Stadium is one major component of a master capital improvement plan that will allow the Kentucky Horse Park to continue to attract large horse shows and other events to Kentucky. 

Governor Beshear stated, "Every citizen of Kentucky can be proud of their Kentucky Horse Park and the influence the new facilities will have in attracting business to our commonwealth.  My administration is working to ensure that Kentucky remains the 'Horse Capital of the World,' with all of the benefits that flow through every county as a result."

John Nicholson stated, "We are very honored that the governor and first lady of Kentucky were in attendance at our official opening, to help us dedicate this fantastic addition to the Kentucky Horse Park.  They have both been very supportive of the park over the years, as Mrs. Beshear is an avid and accomplished horsewoman who, together with the governor, understands the positive effect that these projects will have in building our horse industry and making a notable impact on our state's economy."

The $25 million Outdoor Stadium was designed by EOP Architects of Lexington, Kentucky, and constructed by Messer, a Lexington, Kentucky commercial construction company, and employed approximately 200 people during its construction.  It has nearly 7,400 permanent seats (4,630 covered, 102 for disabled), and the flexibility to expand the seating to 30,000 for very large shows like the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games which will be held at the park in 2010.  The stadium's field of play is approximately 406 feet by 360 feet, with state-of-the-art footing by the German company OTTO Sport- und Reitplatz GmbH in the stadium and adjacent warm-up ring, which drains quickly to enhance the safety of horses and riders who will compete in a variety of equestrian disciplines.  The stadium, which is lighted for night competitions, also includes six restrooms, six concession areas, a hospitality building, and a state-of-the-art LCD Daktronic scoreboard.

The first organization to rent the new Outdoor Stadium is Equestrian Events, Inc., which hosts the annual Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.  Held April 23-26, the dressage and stadium jumping phases of their competition will take place in the stadium.

Accompanying John Nicholson for the ribbon-cutting were: Governor Steven L. Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear, Marcheta Sparrow (Secretary of the Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet), Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, Alston Kerr (Chair of the Kentucky Horse Park Commission), Cabby Boone (Chair of the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation), Deputy Secretary Glenn Mitchell (Kentucky Finance Cabinet), Jamie Link, (CEO of the World Games 2010 Foundation, Inc.), John Long (CEO of the United States Equestrian Federation), Robin Cravens (President of Equestrian Events, Inc), Janie Atkinson (Director of Equestrian Events, Inc.).

Nicholson concluded, "This will truly be a momentous year for the Kentucky Horse Park and for the citizens of the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Every improvement that we make to the park will increase our ability to attract new business to Kentucky.  I also want to take this opportunity to thank our architects at EOP for a great design, and our construction company, Messer, for completing this project by our deadline." 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  To view photos and architectural renderings of these projects, please go to and click on "Building for the future."