Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mark Bellissimo Announces $80 Million Dollar Expansion Plans for Wellington Equestrian Industry

WELLINGTON, Fla. - Thursday, March 24th 2011 [ME NewsWire]

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mark Bellissimo, Managing Partner and largest shareholder of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), unveiled an $80 million dollar expansion plan for Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) and surrounding areas. WEP has invested over $225 million building the 140 acre PBIEC facility and securing 370 acres surrounding the facility. WEP was founded by Bellissimo, Roger Smith, and Dennis Dammerman in 2006 and is dedicated to creating excellence in horse sports. The Partnership includes some of America’s most prominent equestrian families, all of whom are committed to providing a home for the equestrian community and assuring harmony between equestrian and non-equestrian interests in Wellington.

WEP, through its operating subsidiary, Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC (ESP) owns and operates 42 weeks of United States Equestrian Federation shows in Wellington. According to industry analyses, the equestrian industry estimates a $700 million economic impact on Palm Beach County.

The Vision

The Wellington Equestrian Partners' goal is to make Wellington the premier equestrian lifestyle destination in the world. To support vision and expansion plans, Bellissimo outlined key elements of the WEP strategy:

* Create a world-class facility that supports entry-level riders to Olympic athletes.
* Provide and support programs to increase access to the sport and the facility.
* Connect to the community through entertainment, job education, and philanthropy.
* Lead the transition to a true commercial sport through increased sponsorship and media exposure.
* Enhance the lifestyle for all participants, including spectators, riders, residents, trainers, and horse owners.

About Wellington

Wellington lies 20 miles west of Palm Beach Island and 15 miles west of Palm Beach International Airport. The Village of Wellington is synonymous with World Class Horse Country. In the late ‘90s, Wellington created an 8,000 acre equestrian district which protects the equestrian industry and is home to hundreds of horse farms that surround PBIEC. WEP owns over 500 acres within the district including the majority of the commercial entitlement.

Each year over 10,000 people come from 30 countries and 49 states to participate in a series of shows called the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). They are produced and managed by ESP and WEF is the largest, longest-running competition in horse sports. The WEF, which awards over 6 million dollars in prize money, runs each year from early January to early April. While they showcase the top American and International riders and horses, including Olympic Gold Medalists, they also host beginner riders to juniors to amateurs.

The PBIEC is considered one of the most recognizable equestrian sporting venues in the world today. PBIEC has 13 competition arenas that host over 70 divisions of competition and has become a first-class spectator sporting event and unique entertainment destination for everyone.

The Expansion

Since WEP took over ownership of PBIEC in 2007, they have invested over $25 million in improvements ranging from new footing in 12 arenas to a significant increase in hospitality options throughout the facility.

Bellissimo was joined by six-time dressage Olympian Robert Dover, Wellington Equestrian Partner and avid dressage enthusiast, Kim Boyer, and WEP founding partner Roger Smith in a presentation on new expansion plans. While WEP is eager to proceed to phase two of the expansion, Bellissimo noted that the following initiatives will be completed before the 2012 WEF circuit: improved communications with constituents; strategy to enhance current footing; addition of special classes for hunters and jumpers; improved stabling options; increased parking options; improved traffic flow for safety; enhanced work areas for schooling; and enhanced hospitality options.

The main strategy for phase two is centered around the conversion of the old polo stadium into the gateway to the equestrian community. This facility is at South Shore Boulevard and Pierson Road and located only hundreds of yards from PBIEC. The major elements of Phase 2 are:

* An improved derby field with permanent seating and lights to support high-end equestrian events.
* A new equestrian facility with a covered arena, four competition rings, and permanent stabling to support a wide range of equestrian events (e.g. Dressage, Young Horse Shows, Breed Shows, etc.).
* A proposed 2012 ESP Dressage series.
* The new home of the Palm Beach Riding Academy.
* A new “Equestrian Village” including a luxury condominium/hotel complex with commercial office and retail components.

The creation of a world-class dressage circuit is a significant component. Dover and Boyer expressed the need for a new top-notch dressage facility in Wellington and supported Bellissimo’s plans to elevate dressage at PBIEC. Dover announced his goal to raise $1 million in sponsorship for the new ESP Dressage series before the 2012 season. This would enable dressage competitors to have the premier quality of competition, prize money, and venue in Wellington.

Finally, Bellissimo announced that WEP is evaluating the development of an indoor stadium in order to expand the season and increase the opportunities for horse sports in Wellington. This initiative would better position WEP to bid for prestigious competitions such as the FEI World Cup Finals and the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games.

For more information visit


Equestrian Sport Productions

Clara Belden, 561-793-5867

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