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WEG finances 'right on target'

The new head of the group planning the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is making it his mission to improve public perception of the Games' financial condition.

The worldwide economic slump is causing "unwarranted concern that things aren't going well," Jamie Link said Thursday.

But Link, who became chief executive officer of the World Games 2010 Foundation in January, said there is no reason for concern.

Link said he and other organizers of the 2010 Games at the Kentucky Horse Park are "comfortable" with the foundation's financial situation.

"We are right on target," he told the foundation's board of directors. "We are in as good a shape as we should be at this time."

Later, in an interview, Link said rumors are being spread by radio talk show callers that the economy is forcing the Games to be postponed from the original start day of Sept. 25, 2010, or that they are being moved to the Middle East kingdom of Dubai.

However, Dubai also has been hard hit by the recession, according to news reports.

To counter the rumors, Link has been a guest on one popular call-in radio show and might do others.

The foundation also is planning a brown bag program Feb. 25 at the Lexington Public Library called "The 2010 Games and The Economy."

Link said the economy has made companies more reluctant to commit as financial sponsors of the Games or to rent booths in the Games' trade show, but organizers expect to meet their goals in both areas by the start of the Games.

In the meantime, he said, the foundation is meeting its budget with revenue from previously committed sponsors, such as title sponsor Alltech, and from merchandise sales and deposits on trade show booths and tickets.

More money is expected to flow in beginning in the next few weeks as new sponsors are announced and final contracts for trade show booths are signed with the 170 businesses that have made deposits, Link said.

In addition, ticket sales, which have been mostly limited to members of major equestrian groups, will be expanded leading up to sales to the general public, beginning in September.

Link said he is confident that the foundation will meet its $76 million budget for putting on the Games, which will last for 16 days.

More than 600,000 tickets are expected to be sold for the 2010 Games, which will be the first held outside of Europe.

"We are where we need to be" financially, Link said.

The foundation's budget does not include state spending to build a stadium or arena or to improve roads in and near the Horse Park off Interstate 75 north of Lexington.

The projects at the park are on schedule for completion this year or in early 2010, Horse Park executive director John Nicholson told the foundation's board Thursday.

"The news is all good," he said. "There is a wonderful lack of drama."