Stadium Jumping and Wellington Equestrian Partners Reach Agreement
Wellington, FL - November 21, 2007 - Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP) and Stadium Jumping, Inc. (SJI) announced today that an agreement has been reached that ensures the National Horse Show and Winter Equestrian Festival will remain at its existing location. This latest agreement was approved unanimously by WEP partners and Stadium Jumping's Board of Directors. The transaction officially closed on Monday, November 19.
As part of the agreement, all of SJI's Wellington licenses for horse show dates issued by the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) have been transferred into a new subsidiary named Equestrian Show Holdings, LLC (ESH), that is 100 percent wholly owned by WEP.
This transfer has been approved by the United States Equestrian Federation.
"The United States Equestrian Federation congratulates Wellington Equestrian Partners and Stadium Jumping, Inc. for this historic agreement. The USEF license agreements with Stadium Jumping will be transferred to the new entity subsequent to the closing," said John Long, Chief Executive Officer of the United States Equestrian Federation.
The board of directors of the newly created ESH to maintain the licenses includes Eugene R. Mische as honorary chairman, Mark J. Bellissimo, WEP managing partner, S. Craig Lindner, Co-President of American Financial Group, Roger Smith, a financier and investor, Jeremy Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Delaware North Companies and Louis Jacobs, Executive Vice President of Delaware North.
In addition, three outside directors, to be mutually agreed between WEP and SJI, will be appointed to the ESH board. Further, Mische and Michael J. Morrissey, current SJI Chief Operating Officer, will remain as consultants to the new entity for three years to ensure a smooth transition.
A new company called Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), also a wholly-owned subsidiary of WEP, will be the operating company responsible for managing all of WEP's equestrian events in Wellington.
All lawsuits filed by both parties will be dismissed.
As part of the plan to create a world-class equestrian corridor, substantial capital improvements are already underway at the stadium and the showgrounds that have been the longtime home of the Winter Equestrian Festival. The new stadium and showgrounds have been renamed Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. WEP acquired both properties in September. The combined PBIEC showgrounds cover more than 150 acres including 57 acres at the stadium.
Bellissimo said that improvement to the showgrounds will accelerate with this agreement and include elevating the quality of footing in competition arena, better spectator facilities and parking, internal traffic circulation for horses, golf carts and pedestrians, as well as major improvements for dressage competitions.
"All of us owe thanks to Craig Lindner and Jeremy Jacobs for their statesman-like roles in getting all the parties and interests involved to rise above the fray and get to the table to work out a resolution and a strategy that is in the best interests of Wellington and the entire equestrian community," Bellissimo said.
"I want to extend my deep personal gratitude to Craig Lindner, Dennis Dammerman, Roger Smith, and the Burton Family as well as the other WEP partners who provided the inspiration and leadership to make this happen. I also want to thank Glenn Straub for allowing us to close on the Showgrounds purchase which paved the way for this settlement. Finally, these efforts couldn't have happened without the continued stewardship of the Jacobs family."
Jeremy Jacobs added, "I couldn't be more pleased for the equestrian community in Wellington. This new enterprise will be able to focus on what's important-ensuring that Wellington continues to be a great place for families to come and experience great equestrian events and competition. I appreciate the passion and enthusiasm that Mark has for this project and I am certainly happy to lend my support, especially given the commitments for the significant investment that will occur in the existing showground."
Mische said, "This is good news for the entire community. Instead of having two opposing forces, going in two different directions, it will be much better for the sport and for the Village of Wellington for the parties to work together."
Lindner concluded, "We are now in a position to pursue our collective vision and to secure Wellington as the premiere family oriented equestrian lifestyle destination in the world with the highest levels of competition in the sport."
The Wellington show dates comprise 10 hunter-jumper and four dressage competition dates that span four months from September through March. Included are the National Horse Show, Dressage at the Nationals, the Christmas Show and the complete Wellington hunter-jumper and dressage calendar of the Winter Equestrian Festival that is highlighted by the jumping Nations Cup, three World Cup qualifiers, the Global Champions Tour and a Dressage CDI.
SJI also agreed to the upgrade of two competitions held at the neighboring Littlewood Farms shows--Littlewood Spring 2 and Spring 3--from "C" to "AA" that will have the effect of extending the Wellington winter circuit from the end of November to the end of March.
WEP will actively solicit input from trainers, owners, and exhibitors to create an overall strategy for the expanded show schedule.
In addition, all money paid in advance by exhibitors for stabling and other services will be honored.
SJI will continue to own and operate shows outside of the Palm Beach area including Tampa, Charlotte, Lake Placid, NY and the American Gold Cup in Cleveland, Ohio. SJI's Tampa schedule will be expanded to three weeks from two weeks and include the Budweiser American Invitational.
Photo credit (C) 2007 Ken Braddick/HorseSport USA
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