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World Equestrian Games sign John Deere for equipment

John Deere, the iconic tractor maker, will be the official equipment sponsor of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Organizers of the Games announced Friday that the company will provide the games' grounds-care equipment, some of which will remain at Kentucky Horse Park after the Games end in October 2010.

John Deere also will be the title sponsor of the reining competition during the games, said Terry Johnson, vice president of sales for the games.

The sponsorship includes a cash contribution, Johnson said.

Johnson and Dennis Stewart, manager of national sales for John Deere, would not say how much the sponsorship is worth.

"This is a big one," Johnson said.

Organizers made the announcement in front of a crowd of more than 100 at the Horse Park's covered arena. The announcement included Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear driving into the arena on a Gator, one of John Deere's small utility vehicles that are used to transport people and supplies at sporting events and fairgrounds.

WEG organizers set a goal to raise almost $30 million in sponsorships. They have raised two-thirds of that amount, Johnson said.

Johnson said the economy was making the sponsorship market tough, but that the games were positioned well.

"We're in better shape than some," he said.

The Games can accept in-kind donations and cash. Companies get a tax benefit from getting rid of inventory that isn't selling. In addition, companies can spread out contributions between now and the Games in fall 2010, Johnson said.

Other announced sponsors of the games include Alltech, Rolex, Ariat International and Lexington's Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. Alltech committed $10 million for the title sponsorship of the Games, which will be held at the Horse Park Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, 2010, and will determine world champions in eight disciplines, including para-equestrian dressage.

The equipment that John Deere will donate to the games includes small tractors and Gators. Johnson said the Games will need approximately 50 Gators.

Gators cost $5,000 to $10,000 each, Stewart said. The tractors cost $25,000 to $35,000. The equipment will begin arriving in the summer of 2010.

John Nicholson, executive director of Kentucky Horse Park, said approximately $100,000 worth of equipment would remain at the park after the games as part of the deal.