Dueling Sponsorships Blamed For Failed WEG Bid

Jun 9, 2014

The Kentucky Horse Park’s Rolex Stadium won’t be filled with World Equestrian Games spectators in 2018 – and the reason why might be in the name.

Lexington’s failed World Equestrian Games bid appears to have hinged on the issue of competing sponsorships. Governor Steve Beshear explained the dispute Monday just before Fédération Equestre Internationale announced that Canada had won the hosting honors.

"The major sponsor for the FEI is the Longines watch company and, of course, one of our main stadiums at the horse park is named the Rolex Stadium for another competing watch company," Beshear said.

Longines currently boasts a long-term sponsorship with the FEI worth at least $130 million while Rolex, which had sponsored FEI events in the past, is no longer partnering with the federation. The organization described both bids as “impressive,” but in the end the Canadian proposal was stronger.

Kentucky hosted the games in 2010, generating close to $200 million in economic impact according to the state.