After a slow start to ticket sales to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, organizers say they're seeing an uptick, particularly from overseas.
"With the arrival of 2010, we are seeing a steady increase in sales each day as people around the world make their plans and purchase their tickets to the Games," said Jamie Link, CEO of the World Games Foundation, which is putting on the event at the Kentucky Horse Park from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10.
Ticket sales are at the 160,000 mark. That's still a long way from the available 600,000, but organizers say they believe tickets will continue to move as the event gets closer.
Only competition tickets to the eight events are now on sale. General admission tickets will go on sale in the spring. Despite the global recession, there is more interest from abroad, particularly Europe, where all previous World Equestrian Games have been held.
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"We've really seen sales pick up from countries like Great Britain, France and Germany," said Terry Johnson, the vice-president of marketing. "We've also had a strong push from South Africa."
There have also been ticket sales from Canada, Australia and Mexico, 50 countries in all.
Johnson said he wasn't sure exactly why South Africa was well-represented, except it will have athletes at the Games.
Interest in some events is intense. Games spokeswoman Amy Walker said two events — the final rounds of reining and dressage — are almost sold out. There are preliminary rounds for each event.
Organizers also said the top five U.S. states represented in accommodations booking are California, New York, Virginia, Ohio and Illinois. Almost 50,000 room nights have been reserved to date—about half of the expected total. The average length of stay for individual reservations is six nights. The average length of stay for group bookings is nine nights.
David Lord, a Games Foundation board member and director of the Lexington Convention and Visitors' Bureau, said he would like to see 20 percent of the audience come from Europe, but they may not make final plans until the event is closer.
"They have to be hard core fans" if they're planning now to come, he said. "The rest will wait for four years" when the 2014 Games will be held in Deauville, France.
In other WEG news, Johnson said he expects to announce several new sponsors in the coming weeks, bringing the sponsorship budget to within 90 percent of its goal. Tickets sales and sponsorships will make up nearly all of the $76 million operations budget.
Johnson credited sports promotions expert Jim Host and Alltech President Pearse Lyons with finding some of the new sponsors.
In addition, organizers announced a free multimedia package to help people learn more about the Games. The official Web site, www.alltechfeigames.com, will feature a video training program to create experts, or, as they call them, "WEGsperts," on each of the eight equestrian disciplines at the Games. They are dressage, jumping, reining, vaulting, driving, three-day eventing, endurance and dressage for riders with disabilities.