Balmoral Park. Ph. via HITS
HITS, Inc., home of the Richest Weekend in Show Jumping, announced on Friday, May 28th that the national event production company purchased the iconic Balmoral Park, in Crete, Illinois, outside of Chicago, and in partnership with Pat Boyle of Showplace Productions, will host up to 14 hunter/jumper shows beginning in May 2017. Previously acclaimed as a premier harness racetrack and event venue, Balmoral Park, with the assistance of HITS, will transform into a show jumping destination for equine enthusiasts from the Greater Chicago area and beyond.
Located less than one hour from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Balmoral Park will become the new home to a number of Boyle’s existing Midwest shows.
“Pat is known for offering horse shows with terrific amenities, and together we’ll continue that. HITS is known for building spectacular venues, and offering big prize money. Those two together should make quite a team,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “We are going to cater to existing customers that Pat has had for many years, and hope to bring in other, new clients that have not yet experienced Chicago.”
“I’ve known Tom for many years and have long admired what he’s built on both coasts” said Pat Boyle. “For years we’ve been playing with the idea of collaborating and combining our strengths to bring a new product to the Chicago market. I’ve always wanted to manage an international level jumping event but the existing venues in my market didn’t have the space to do that. Now, Chicago is going to have a truly world-class equestrian venue to call its own, and when the eyes of the world are on the Midwest next spring for the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha, they’ll see that the region has a new facility here that can host the most prestigious outdoor international competitions.”
“…the region has a new facility here that can host the most prestigious outdoor international competitions.”
HITS will break ground at Balmoral in the next week to begin executing a detailed property upgrade that includes remodeling the existing permanent stabling to include modern amenities with the character of the historic barns, and construction of six hunter rings and four jumper rings. The revival of the horse park will keep memorable symbols from the past and present, specifically in the Grand Prix Stadium.
“The Grand Prix stadium will feature Balmoral’s original tote board and finish line as the stadium side walls which will add some historic flavor to the improved show park,” continued Struzzieri. “It’s imperative for a brand new ring to go through a winter. It takes a year for a great ring to mature, so time is on our side, and a Chicago winter will be good for it.”
The existing property boasts a 70,000 seat mint-condition grand stand, as well as a state of the art VIP Clubhouse, with spectacular amenities that feature the highest levels of architectural development. Clubhouse patrons will enjoy indoor, climate controlled seating overlooking all of the competition rings, adding to the first class hospitality experience HITS is known for across the country.
“Keep in mind that this venue is only 30 minutes from Soldier Field in Chicago,” added Boyle. “With three tiers of VIP space, we are going to be able to offer that same Sky-box experience to both our corporate guests, and our existing sponsors and friends. When you factor in Tom’s hotel and restaurant knowledge with my devotion to the exhibitor experience, we are going to create something remarkable together. Something the equal of the internationally renowned dining spaces a short drive away on the Magnificent Mile.”
“There’s every reason to believe this will be as impactful on the community as some of our other shows.”
In true HITS fashion, Struzzieri will give both show jumping disciplines the opportunity to showcase their skills center stage, adding, “Pat is known for hosting really memorable USHJA International Hunter Derbies with elaborate and natural features, so between those, our Devoucoux Hunter Prix and jumper prize money unprecedented in the Chicago area, I think both hunters and jumpers will be pretty happy there.”
Similar to HITS other show jumping destinations across the country, the communities surrounding Balmoral Park will once again feel the positive economic impact as a result of a bustling horse park.
“There’s every reason to believe this will be as impactful on the community as some of our other shows,” added Struzzieri. “It may take a year, but then again it might not since we are bringing in a captive, established audience of show jumping enthusiasts.”
“I am super excited by this perfect match,” Boyle closed. “Tom’s skills and experience truly complement mine, and I can’t wait to establish Chicago as the newest world-class show jumping venue.”