Compliments of Friends of the Del Mar Horsepark
The Del Mar Horsepark is on the road to reopening. On June 8 the 22nd DAA Board voted unanimously for staff to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for an experienced horse show/events operator to lease the facility. Carlene Moore, 22nd DAA CEO, stated that they are targeting July to issue the RFP.
Friends of Del Mar Horsepark welcome the Board’s decision. We have recommended leasing out Horsepark since the 22nd DAA abruptly “paused” operations in December 2020.
The selected 3rd-party operator should have the capital to fund the $2-3 million needed for water remediation, the experience to implement best management practices as required by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Board, and the vision to renovate the facility to bring it back to world-class standards.
The Fairgrounds Board members discussed in broad terms what they are looking for in a lessee:
· Experienced, well-known operator who has a proven track record for generating significant revenue
· Horsepark continues to serve San Diego County as a large animal evacuation center in emergencies
· Compatible uses with horses that encourage broad public participation
· Proper compliance with water remediation requirements
· Accommodation for three weeks of Fair parking
Friends of Del Mar Horsepark also recommend reinstating the public riding school at a reduced stall rate and/or a therapeutic riding program as permanent boarders. Equine therapy is a proven, successful treatment for children with disabilities and veterans suffering from PTSD. This use would help Horsepark serve the greater public good.
Our Horsepark survey of over 300 equestrians showed that most equestrians wanted the facility’s show barns upgraded and new footing for show and training rings. Over 250 respondents also suggested more animal-related events such as dog shows, pet adoption, livestock shows, and other group events. Popular performance dog events such as agility have few venue options in San Diego County during the winter, and are open to rescues and mixed breed dogs. That use would greatly broaden public participation.
Time is of the essence. Horse show operators require at least 3-4 months to organize shows and obtain national certification, which is essential to attract participants. Potential lessees need to plan now for 2022. Meanwhile, the property is deteriorating from lack of use. We urge the 22nd DAA to speed up the RFP issuance.
Horsepark is integral to our regional and national equestrian heritage as it helped produce many Olympic competitors and medalists. For example, three local riders are short-listed for the US Equestrian Team competing in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in July. As in 1984 when Horsepark was used for the LA Olympics qualifying events, we could again host qualifiers for the upcoming LA Olympics in 2028.
Horsepark’s supporters and neighbors will actively participate in the upcoming July 13 board meeting of the 22nd DAA to encourage a speedy RFP issuance and selection process.