Countdown To World Equestrian Games

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It doesn't seem that long ago that Kentuckians were thinking of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games as an event years into the future, but as of Tuesday, the games were exactly 500 days away.

Will Lexington be ready to host the event? Well, it now appears a safe bet that the Kentucky Horse Park, where the games will be held, won't need all 500 days to get everything in place.

The park's director, John Nicholson, tells 27 NEWSFIRST, "A lot will happen between now and day zero, but right now, everything here is on schedule and on budget. The end result will be a bright and shiny, totally new Kentucky Horse Park that we roll out for 2010."

A 10.3 million dollar road project at the park will get under way in a few weeks. The new outdoor stadium there was a big hit at the recent Rolex event, and an indoor arena will have its own ribbon cutting ceremony soon.

Nicholson says that sprawling arena has already been booked for 27 weeks apart from the World Equestrian Games and is a gift that will keep on giving for generations.

What isn't likely to come together on time are plans to lure visitors downtown to spend money during the games. A 51 million dollar street-scape beautification program designed to bury utility lines and create green-scape along downtown Lexington streets is way behind schedule.

The city meanwhile is hoping to build a stage on the courthouse plaza by selling sponsorships to a 2 week festival called Spotlight Lexington, but the uncertain economy has slowed that effort as well.

Still, John Nicholson is confident that the festival will come off as planned and that the city and state will put on a great show. He says, "I am very happy that it's 2009 and not 2010, and I think a year from now, the economy will be better, and the games can almost be symbolic for us of the re-emergence of our economic well being and our outlook for the future.

But he and his staff at the Kentucky Horse Park won't be breathing easier until the games are over. Nicholson laughs as he says, "We are fortunate to be where we are, but we stay in a constant state of controlled anxiety."

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