Big Plans for Wellington

Wow! Didn’t know if they had any room for expansion. Maybe they will have to expand vertically and horses will travel by elevator. Maybe divide the divisions into floors…haha. First floor for amateurs, with a luxury cocktail lounge for some liquid courage before the show. The Grand Prix at the top floor. I think it’s an awesome show since I started going there to watch in the 80s. It’s expanded so much since then and I’m excited to see where it goes from here. It’s become a truly international venue. Maybe its expansion will bring with it some European horse prices.


Sounds like someone thinks Ocala is going to take away business. :thinking: He probably isn’t wrong. But you can’t get rid of the congestion and high prices of palm beach.


Or the reality that it will all be underwater sooner rather than later


I’m not a business person, but I wonder about them considering 2022 as an indication of anything. It’s the year after COVID restrictions were lifted, hardly a year on which to base predictions of the future.

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The 1% keep building bigger and fancier playgrounds while us middle class folks continue getting priced out of the sport entirely. What else is new?


He’s been trying to expand WEF for decades now. PBC government and heavy hitters in the area have had significant and strong pushback that prevented him from doing much of anything. I can’t see how this time will be different; unless all the influential people moved out of Wellington. It was one of the reasons he started TIEC; they wouldn’t allow expansion.

I actually hope he can expand as Wellington has always been the playground of the Uber rich because of how small the showgrounds were. It was difficult to keep horses there unless you had the money to rent or purchase one of the stables nearby. Maybe this will make WEF more accessible to people of other tax brackets.

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I think having Andreas Helgstrand as co-owner is going to make a difference, as well as working with Ludger Beerbaum Stables to market the new Wellington International showgrounds. I’m hoping that all of this European influence and competition will drive down the prices of horses and anything horse-related.

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I suspect the competition from WEC is a serious motivation. WEC just got USEF mileage exemptions for its winter circuit, and they offer a lot of jumper money, hunter derby money, and top notch new facilities, and you already had people bouncing up from Wellington to Ocala for some of the bigger money weeks. So, you have to think that, since they already wanted to expand, this gives them a good reason/excuse/explanation to push it forward.

The WEC did get good reviews from the people that showed there. They do have some fancy amenities as well. Hmm.

Construction on the scale that the article describes will take Bellissimo et al a few years, won’t it?

I see. This is quite the competition.
A large hotel, 8 restaurants, shops, rentals and properties for sale adjacent. No wonder they are worried.

The climate controlled indoor facilities would be a big bonus in the Florida heat. WEC looks to have really nice arenas and stabling.

After perusing the website, I agree with you @AmmyHunter, Wellington is playing catch up with Ocala.

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I have shown there and the huge indoor arenas are awesome, both for winter and summer. The barns are really nice, tons of amenities and shops on site, and lots of Airbnb and hotel options. It’s a great spot. WEF isn’t going to lose its allure, but this has shown they also can’t rest on their laurels. I have friends who spent the whole circuit at WEF last year but are going to divide their time between WEF and WEC this year.

Ocala is no longer the inexpensive place it was pre-Covid and pre-WEC, and people are staying all year round. Housing is expensive, training board at good show barns, while not at WEF-during-season pricing, certainly rivals off-season pricing.

WEC has a 10 week USEF rated summer circuit going now - it’s been busy all summer. In my mare’s non-rated 2’6 division alone this week there were 25 entries. They’ll also get USEF rating for the winter circuit, as Tom Struzzieri just announced today he won’t contest any exceptions to the mileage rule.

The downside of Ocala is there is no real infrastructure for families - WEC is incredible, but the schools are still hot garbage, there are no hotels over 2.5 stars, and there are none of the nice amenities that exist in WPB area… from good restaurants to sports complexes to beaches. I’m assuming that will come as things continue to expand (minus the beaches), but it is a few years off at this point.

I’m going to kind of disagree here. All of south Florida is known for its absolutely shite schools. The private schools in Wellington are top notch, but only if you can afford them.
For hotels, yeah most of them are not good, even though there is a lot to choose from. The ‘best’ one in the area (outside of the WEC one) is the Hilton, and it’s not good. They actually gave my room key so someone else when I was there, leading to some random guy walking into my room with his suitcase at 9 PM.
However, the hotel at WEC is top notch, and they plan on building a second one. Comparing that to Wellington, where most people actually commute in from the coast every day or have to rent a house, Ocala is still more user friendly.

For other activities, IMO Ocala is actually really slept on. There’s one of the best rated art museums in all of Florida there. There’s a bunch of beautiful, crystal clear springs to swim in. You are an hour to Gainesville, which has sports teams, great restaurants, nightlife, and more top notch museums. And of course, you are about 1h 20 to Orlando, which needs no explanation.

WEF is still 40 min from the beach (and I know quite a few people who wouldn’t be caught dead in Palm Beach, so maybe add 30 minutes onto that for those people :smile: ) and most of the other activities are a good hour to hour and a half away further south.

I love WEF, I lived in the area for several years and have fond memories of there, but I do think that unless they can somehow develop more Everglades land they are really stuck in between a rock and a hard place with the size of the grounds.

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Here is the 2023 schedule pending FEI approval and organizer licensing;

Despite the influx of European influence, at heart Marks Bellissimo has never been anything but a real estate developer. Most is his focus was on making the grounds more attractive to spectators, not on improving the situation for the horses. This is still about getting his hotel built. His European connections should take a look at the fabulous hotel he built on the grounds of the Tryon facility. All the WEG people loved it! /s

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