After nearly two months on the job, Kentucky Horse Park executive director Jamie Link is getting his footing.
In the park's slow winter season, he plans to study the budget, with an eye to next year's budget session of the Kentucky General Assembly, he said recently.
The park, which has 800,000 visitors annually, would like to be self-sufficient, and Link hopes to rebid a hotel to be built at the park on Ironworks Pike, off Interstate 75, he said, adding that he thinks a new market study would help discern the needs that the park hotel could address.
"We have such a wide demographic — some people are here one night, some two to three weeks at a time. Do you have a blend of standard hotel rooms, or extended stay, and what's the right price point?" Link said. "I do think it would be advantageous, should we decide to issue a new (request for proposals.)"
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Link also hopes to modernize the park's campground, which drew about 45,000 visitors in 2014. Many of them are just passing through the area or are here for events that are completely unrelated to horses.
"The campground is a great asset," he said, but it would benefit from sewer and water hook-ups and pull-through camp sites for bigger RVs.
Link anticipates the state again will bid to host the World Equestrian Games, which came to Kentucky in 2010. The next opportunity will be for 2022.
One issue that arose with the 2018 bid was the Rolex sponsorship of the park's outdoor stadium. The FEI, the international governing body for horse sports, has a long-term sponsorship agreement with rival watchmaker Longines. However, Kentucky's Rolex sponsorship deal will run out after 2020, Link said, and the potential for conflict may be a consideration for future sponsorship contracts.
The park also is looking for ways to do more non-equestrian events.
"Our core mission is equestrian; we want to honor that, and maximize it to the greatest extent possible," he said. "But we're also a world-class event facility so we want to look at conventions, fitness events, including some that might incorporate the Legacy Trail, going into downtown."
And possibly opening up to Scott County, he said. There have been discussions about extending the Legacy Trail into Scott County, which would come through the park.
"The craft beer, bourbon, music, food trucks ... How can we make the Horse Park also a major non-equestrian destination? And how can the Horse Park start owning some of its own events here?" Link said. "We've got 1,224 acres here and we want to make the most of it."