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Wellington Equestrian Partners Finalize Stadium Acquisitions

WELLINGTON, Florida, Oct. 31-Wellington Equestrian Partners, LLC (WEP) has finalized the acquisition of the last remaining parcel of land to complete its $55 million purchase of the old Palm Beach Polo Stadium and the Equestrian Club show grounds.

"The newly acquired properties total almost 140 acres to support WEP's equestrian events," WEP Managing Partner Mark J. Bellissimo said.

"In addition to the $55 million to buy the Polo Stadium property of 57 acres and the 82 acres of the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, we are investing millions more to make them the best horse show facilities in the world."

The last piece of real estate to be acquired was almost nine acres parcel on the corner of Pierson Road and South Shore Boulevard which is adjacent to the Polo Stadium. The purchase was concluded Tuesday, Oct. 30.

The complete equestrian events complex has been named the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center while the Polo Stadium will be called "The Stadium" and what has been the Palm Beach Equestrian Club will be named "The ShowGrounds."

Bellissimo last week signed an unconditional Special Use Permit (SUP) required by the Village of Wellington for the erection of tents on the show grounds for the 2008 Winter Equestrian Festival. He had signed a similar SUP for the National Horse Show more than two weeks ago.

Major re-construction has already begun on the grand stand at The Stadium that was the birthplace and the heart of equestrian activities in Wellington three decades ago. Highlights included sellout crowds to watch Britain's Prince Charles play polo and the creation of the first hunter-jumper shows that were the forerunner of the Winter Equestrian Festival now resident at the adjacent Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club show grounds.

Michael Stone, former secretary general of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), who is heading up planning for events at The Stadium, said that re-construction of the grand stand and installing Olympic-sized all-weather jumping, hunter and dressage rings is on schedule for the first shows to be held there in January.

Helping to plan the facilities is Simon Brooks-Ward who has created and produced equestrian spectacles around the world, including the internationally celebrated Pavarotti horse show in Modena, Italy, the Al Maktoum Invitational in Dubai, the Windsor Horse Show outside Windsor Castle and his annual signature event, a combined jumping and dressage World Cup qualifying event at Olympia in the heart of London at Christmas.

"We're excited to be preparing facilities that will be first class in every way to showcase the best the world has to offer in jumping, dressage, hunters and other high performance horse sports," Stone said.

"We are planning events to thrill equestrian fans and attract families to spectacles that are top notch entertainment. Bellissimo said that refurbishing the existing show grounds has already begun, though major changes have to be scheduled around horse shows that include the National Horse Show Dec. 5-9, a Christmas show and the Winter Equestrian Festival that runs from Jan. 30 through Mar. 23 in Wellington.

"We are planning to create equestrian events that are the best in the world and that all those who live in and visit our home in Wellington can be proud," Bellissimo said. "Our goal is to make Wellington the premier equestrian lifestyle destination for those who participate and those who want to be entertained by equestrian sport."

Photo: Re-construction under way of the old Palm Beach Polo grand stand acquired by Wellington Equestrian Partners to stage equestrian events.


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