The organising committee for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is preparing to welcome some half million spectators and more than a thousand horses to Normandy next month, and the final effort to ready the venues is under way.
Some venues are already signed off, with the D’Ornano stadium hosting a simulation event last month, but other hosts are still being readies. This includes the Prairie Racecourse, which will host both para-dressage and driving. The six-week fit-out of the track for the games has included about 10,000 tonnes of surfacing material, and a temporary grandstand catering for 3000 people has been erected around the competition arena. This will accommodate spectators for the para-dressage and the obstacle and dressage phases for the driving. On Saturday, September 6, the competition venue will extend to the Orne Valley with the cross-country phase and its 16,000 spectators.
Reining has a brand new venue to compete in, with the newly completed Exhibition Park (Parc des Expositions) ready for action. A snow fall in March 2013 caused the roof of the building to collapse, and the rebuild has taken a year. Three arenas are being put into the area for the reining events, including an 80 x 40m competition arena, and one at the Zénith venue, which will also host the vaulting.
The eventing cross-country course is already established, with test events taking place last year. Organisers say the course has been designed to provide the greatest possible visibility for the event, both for the public and the television viewers, with an added focus on limiting its environmental impact as much as possible. Media will be able to walk the course on August 27, with the 6500m track open to public course walks on August 28 and 29.
The Games Village will provide an Olympic-like atmosphere for visitors and athletes, and spans 110,000 square meters in the heart of Caen, just a stone’s throw from the Parc des Expositions and the Zénith. As well as entertainment, performers and shows, about 500 horses will grace the Village’s various stables and pathways as well as the Kids’ Corral and Main Arena entertainment arenas. The Games’ Village will also feature about 250 exhibitors, 17,000 square meters of temporary structures which are partly completed, five restaurants and numerous fast-food outlets.
Access to the Village is free for spectators who have a ticket for that day’s sporting competition. Otherwise, it is €5 a day.
The first horses are expected to arrive at D’Ornano stadium on August 21 for the dressage, followed by the jumpers on August 30. The stadium will be also used for the opening ceremony. The main arena will be dismantled within 72 hours to return it to football pitch in time for SM Caen’s league 1 season.