(from Venues Today, April 23, 2013) Although it seems a bit odd to picture hundreds of horses moving around in Washington, D.C. instead of the countryside, that’s exactly what is happening with the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) that has brought this event to the capitol since 1958. The WIHS has been at the Verizon Center in Washington since 2000 and recently reached an agreement with the facility-owner Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) to extend their annual show through 2016.
“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with WIHS. Both their predecessors and my predecessors had relationships and we’ve continued those. I think both sides are very happy to continue working together,” stated David Touhey, Senior Vice President of MSE and General Manager of Verizon Center.
The venue is located in the middle of the capital and even though this is quite exciting, with this, comes challenges in holding an event with up to 500 live animals in such a busy city. WIHS works with the city and the Department of Transportation who help in closing off streets surrounding the facility, where they can then build stables and house the animals. The coordinated effort in trying to make this event possible and run smoothly starts long before the event even comes to town and is embraced as an annual fall tradition rather than an inconvenience.
“It’s a highly-orchestrated logistical affair, but the team at Verizon Center makes it as easy as possible for us. We move in Sunday night and within 24 hours we turn that professional sports arena into a horse show facility,” said Bridget Love Meehan, WIHS Executive Director.
Touhey said that there is significant cleanup involved. Aramark Facilities Services is the cleaning contractor and that cost is built into the rental fee for WIHS. Aramark is in charge of concessions at the event and Levy does the catering for the suites and VIP platforms.
The Verizon Center proves to be the perfect place to house this popular event, which sells about 200,000 tickets over the six days of events each year. “It’s a great venue. We love being in downtown Washington because the exhibitors and the spectators that come to the show can really take advantage of being in the heart of the city” said Linda Macklin, Media and PR Director at WIHS.
Spectators who make going to this event an annual affair are really looking forward to seeing this first-class event for at least the next three years.