Published Aug. 29, 2012
An international horse park in Aiken could host 225 events each year, attracting almost 500,000 visitors and creating an economic impact of $38 million a year, University of South Carolina researchers estimated.
However, the cost of building such a facility would be between $98 million and $136 million, the researchers said.
The studyTo view the entire feasibility study, click here.
Discussions have been ongoing about a potential horse park for the last year, according to the chamber’s website.
“The Greater Aiken Chamber’s Equine Support Council has been thoroughly impressed with the work ethic of the team and the quality of the product,” said J. David Jameson, president and CEO of Aiken Chamber of Commerce. “Now we wait and see if there are people who want to invest. The possibilities are exciting.”
The study looked at what it would take to bring a horse park to Aiken — a venue for events such as dressage, hunters-jumpers, barrel racing, polo and other competitions. It found there is community support for a horse park in the city, but it would require major community financial resources and private investor support.
“The thing that Aiken has going for it is its history in horse events. If you go down to the community there it’s a very wealthy community. I’m told there are 352 days of really good footing for horses, so people come down from New York and Pennsylvania and up from Florida,” Hudson said. “They even come over from the Middle East and bring over their horses to train.”
Hudson estimated that the equestrian community already generates about $70 million a year in the Aiken community.
Hudson and his team studied whether building a horse park would be realistic, a good business venture and a positive investment for the Aiken community, which is about 15 miles east of Augusta, Ga., and 60 miles west of Columbia.
Stakeholders had some reservations, concerned that an international horse park would dilute the character of Aiken and hurt existing equine businesses.
But surveys showed that most Aiken residents believe that a new multiuse international horse park will encourage more visitor spending, increase jobs in the community and provide economic benefits to local people, Hudson said.