MILL SPRING, NC (WSPA) – In less than a month, some of the best horseback riders in the world will be gathering in Western North Carolina for the World Equestrian Games.
7News reporter Anne Maxwell worked to find out if the facility, as well as the rest of Polk County, is ready.
With a lot of work left to be done, lots of red clay, construction equipment, and orange barrels are visible. Sharon Decker, Chief Operating Officers of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, says it will be ready in time for the games.
Local officials say the event will be a huge economic boost that reaches across Western North Carolina and into the Upstate.
Every four years, elite athletes gather for the World Equestrian Games.
“It’s been in Acken, Germany. It’s been in Stockholm, Sweden. It’s been in Rome, Italy. And right here in Mill Spring, North Carolina,” said Decker.
For two weeks in September, the Tryon International Equestrian Center will be the center of the equestrian world. Between 300,000 and 400,000 are expected to come to town for it.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has been working to prepare for the influx of people.
For some locals, that’s a headache.
“They’re working on the interstate, they’re working on the highways. There’s construction everywhere,” says Polk County resident Brooklyn Alexander. “I don’t think there’s a day in the past two weeks that I haven’t been late for work.”
To accommodate the traffic, the NCDOT has accelerated a $19 million road project by three years.
Decker says the roadwork will be done in time for the games.
Polk County EMS has also set up a mobile hospital and command unit to serve more people.
“I just want to say zero is coming out of our budget, of course we have extra loads on our local personnel,” says Myron Yoder, Polk County Commission Vice Chair.
The state of North Carolina has earmarked $1 million to pay for more public safety officers to work during the games.
Local officials are expecting a big economic payoff.
“We would anticipate between $200 million and $400 million for the entire region,” says Decker.
The equestrian center has only been around for four years. So far, the facility has been a $160 million investment. Decker says they plan to invest twice that much over the next five years and continue to attract events.
Officials say numerous work days were lost due to high amounts of rain in Western North Carolina and work will be going on right up to the deadline but they say they will get it done.
The World Equestrian Games begin on September 11. For more information visit Tryon2018.com