LEXINGTON, KY (December 6, 2004) Every resident of Kentucky has benefited from the Kentucky Horse Park this year.
Although final figures are not yet available, the impact of the Kentucky Horse Park on Kentucky’s economy is estimated to be around $160-million by the end of the year, with more than $17-million generated in taxes (based on 2003 figures). An additional, approximate $100-million economic impact will have been made on the state this year by the National Horse Center, which is also located at the park.
“The Kentucky Horse Park has earned a global reputation for excellence over the years. For example, the blockbuster exhibits in our museum have garnered international attention from equine and non-equine circles,” said Executive Director John Nicholson. He continued, “More recently, competitors in the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the park won the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals in Eventing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
“The United States Dressage Federation and the Carriage Association of America have recently decided to locate their national headquarters here in our National Horse Center. We’re especially proud that the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Secretariat Center has just opened in the park, which will be instrumental in finding homes for at-risk Thoroughbreds. The prestige of our park continues to grow, and with it the contribution to Kentucky’s economy.”
More than thirty years ago, visionaries John Gaines and now-Commerce Secretary Jim Host were among those who created the Kentucky Horse Park concept.
The infamous “white elephant” tag, which was hung like a scarlet letter on the park two decades ago, had the unexpected effect of becoming a clarion call to park officials and horse industry leaders. Since that time, a combination of foresight, fortitude and public investment have turned the park into a gravy train for the state’s economy. The Kentucky Horse Park has become one of the world’s premier equine entertainment facilities, attracting international events and visitors while sweetening the state’s economy by hundreds of millions of dollars.
In a July 8 news conference, Governor Ernie Fletcher publicly recognized the invaluable contribution being made on the state by the Kentucky Horse Park, expressing his pride in the park and his belief in its future. The governor also declared his support of three projects, which will serve to attract more national and international tourists to Kentucky. First, the governor announced that he would serve as the Honorary Chairman of the park’s bid to host the 2010 World Equestrian Games. If the park is successful in obtaining the bid for this prestigious event, it will attract approximately 250,000 visitors and have a $90-million impact on Kentucky’s economy.
The governor also announced that the Commonwealth was actively seeking a partner to build a hotel at the Kentucky Horse Park and that he was supporting the development of a new 5,000-6,000 seat climate-controlled equestrian arena for the park. Both projects are foundational to the future of the park and will generate revenue for the state for many years to come.
According to Nicholson, “The Kentucky Horse Park is on the eve of rocketing to an entirely new level. It will continue to be an important travel destination, but it will also be, without question, the leading equestrian competitive facility in the world as the next pieces of the puzzle are in place.”
The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. The park is an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet that hosted 913,000 visitors and 80 special events and horse shows in 2003. The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington. The place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.