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PBIEC Phase One Completed

WELLINGTON, Fla., Feb. 1--Raising of the Special Events tent capable of seating 1,000 and overlooking the International Arena completed the first phase of a complete overhaul of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Friday.

The final touches of phase one, however, were the furnishing of a new riders' lounge beside the warmup ring for the International Arena and a new bathroom reserved for riders in the International Arena.

Named the "McLain Ward Executive Offices" in honor of the Olympic gold medalist's request for such a facility, the bathroom has toilets for men and women and a changing room. ESP promised Ward that the bathroom would be in place Friday and placed it in position Friday night to honor its promise.

PBIEC is the name for what used to be the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club that has been the longtime home of the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC which took over management of the horse show grounds and the WEF on Dec. 15, undertook a top to bottom reconstruction of the facility within about one month so most of the work would be completed by the opening of WEF on Jan. 16.

WEF has been expanded to 12 weeks and this year includes the five trials for selection of America's team to defend its Olympic gold medal. At least three of the five trials are scheduled for nights to replicate the conditions of the Hong Kong Games. The WEF dressage CDI Grand Prix classes will also be held in the International Arena under lights.

Major changes include:

- New footing from Olympic footing expert Bart Poels in the International Arena and the Bertelan DeNemethy arenas;

- A spectacular new spectator entrance;

- New footing in the Grand Hunter Hunter Field, the Rost Arena and Ring 6;

- Installation of eight light towers that soar 90 feet above the International Arena (20 feet of the towers are buried);

- Miles of separate bridle trails, paved walkways and golf cart tracks that have been universally applauded for significantly improving safety of horses and humans as well as easing congestion;

- Derby style jumps, including a bank and a table, in the International Arena;

- 2,500 stadium style flip-up seats around the International Arena;

- A full motion television Jumbotron in the International Arena, and

- The Special Events tent will be used for the first time Sunday for an ASPCA luncheon.

Photos: The new riders' lounge and the McLain Ward Executive Offices bathroom both provided for riders in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Photos: Ken Braddick-HorseSport USA


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