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international INITIATIVES

the centurylink center wasn’t designed specifically to be a world-class equestrian competition venue, but it happens to be perfect for one—and the omaha community itself boasts several advantages as a host site that even some of the most renowned cities on the globe couldn’t offer.

WhEn thE omaha equestrian foundation (OEF) hOsts thE LOnginEs FEi WOrLd Cup FinaLs MarCh 29 thrOugh apriL 2 at thE CEnturyLink CEntEr, it WiLL bE aChiEving a MiLEstOnE signiFiCant nOt OnLy FOr thE OrganizatiOn, but aLsO FOr thE City OF OMaha.

for World Cup Finals hosting possible in another important way, roskens added, and helped Omaha beat out larger cities like London and hong kong.

“We’ve had great crowds at the international but this will be four times as many people,” West said. “We’ve had to have great partners. We’ve contracted with new people, we’ve hired an extra employee, we are “the second piece of it is that the international created contracting and working with the Omaha Convention a community, it created an environment, it created an and visitors bureau on handling all our housing needs energy and excitement in Omaha and the broader because we’re expecting to have somewhere in the equestrian community. i wouldn’t want to host the neighborhood of 15,000 room-nights for this event.” World Cup Finals if i didn’t feel like people wouldn’t get excited about it,” she said. “this energy and the size of the event and number of people involved excitement convinced me that we could host the plus the global aspect adds layers of complexity, West World Cup event not just from a technical perspective, added. time zones and language barriers and the but from an exciting international sporting event involvement of multiple governing bodies all have had perspective.” to be considered as plans progressed. “We have contracted with experts all over the world,” he said. Jon garner, director of sport for the event, has seen equestrian competitions in cities all over the world but however, five years of hosting the international made said Omaha offers some singular advantages. it clear that OEF, the facility and (best of all) the

“this is the first world championship in sports, except for boxing title fights, that Omaha’s ever hosted. this is a great event for Omaha because it puts Omaha on the world stage in a way it’s never been before,” CEO Mike West explained. “it’s very complicated, very complex and very exciting. We have an obligation to do a great job to lay the groundwork for what potentially could be multiple, different professional championships that we never even thought of—the way they once didn’t think of the things we are hosting now like the nCaa College World series, the community are all up to the task of hosting the even “One of the exciting things about the finals being here larger World Cup Finals, roskens said. u.s. Olympic swim trials and the pinnacle bank is that sometimes in the big major centers they can get (golf) Championship.” lost. so having it in a city like Omaha, it will really “the CenturyLink Center was not built to be an OEF was created in 2010 primarily to bring large-scale stand out on its own like the major event that it is. outstanding equestrian venue; it just happens to have that’s what i’ve noticed about the city; they really do equestrian events to the area, founder and operating been built in a way that makes it an outstanding get behind special events,” he said. “One of the hopes board member Lisa roskens said, and it’s been a equestrian venue. you couldn’t host it here in any is that we’ll ultimately start to reach a new audience whirlwind of success since 2012 when the other building,” she said. “plus, the way the city is laid and create new fans across north america for organization first hosted the international, a out—with the venue so close to the airport, with all equestrian sports. to put it in an area of the country, competition of jumping and dressage (riding with the hotels and restaurants and the Old Market and an an area of the world, where it’s never been before— emphasis on form) events. the international set the exciting arts and entertainment district—it’s a huge that’s potentially a massive opportunity for sure.” stage for the even bigger World Cup Finals. advantage. “in order to host anything of this caliber, you have to have proven you can host at various levels leading up to it. so the international was critical, because we couldn’t even host an FEi-sanctioned event until we had hosted the top level of a u.s.-level-sanctioned event,” she said, explaining that FEi (Fédération Equestre internationale) is the top-level international federation for equestrian sports. “We literally would not have been allowed to bid. there are very specific requirements you have to meet and you have to be able to show that you’ve met them.”

Energy and excitement both the FEi World Cup dressage Final and the FEi World Cup Jumping Final will be part of this spring’s events and feature the world’s best horses and riders in their respective classes. Five years of hosting the international with flying colors made the designation

Readiness the logistical undertaking for the World Cup Finals is massive as well, West said, even with five years’ experience hosting the international with some of the same elements. the number of vendors increases from 60 to 200, for instance, the restaurant area expands from 8,000 square feet to 20,000, and the educational expo doubles in size to 20,000 square feet. up to 5,000 area schoolchildren will be brought in over the course of the event for field trips and the chance to experience the equestrian world, well above the number the international has entertained. and then there are the accommodations for more than 120 members of the international press and media teams organizing broadcasting for 61 countries and delayed u.s. broadcast on nbC. Finally, the arena will provide seating for 13,000 spectators, 2,000 more than in the past.



“another piece of the puzzle is that we have a great and highly reputable group of people involved in this event from our steering committee to our staff; they knew we had the support of the community and we had people who could execute the event. that may sound obvious, but there are a lot of cities that have great staff but don’t have the same kind of community support: the government, the not-for-profit, the private sector, all the sections of the community.”

Volunteering the community has also stepped up by providing a plethora of volunteer support, too, West said. “being part of doing something for the community and making a splash is a really fun thing. and it does not matter what your skill sets are, there’s something for you.”



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