WE’RE NOT HORSING AROUND, IT TAKES MORE THAN JUST HORSEPOWER TO RUN SPRUCE MEADOWS
Equestrian venue Spruce Meadows is a corporate sponsors haven. So how much impact does a stable oil and gas sector have on the sprawling facility?
When Spruce Meadows first opened its gates for tournament action in 1976, there were 25 corporate sponsors and total prize money of $174,000. The show jumping facility’s popularity since then has made total prize money jump up to $10 million with approx 100 corporate sponsors.
When you take a trot through the Spruce Meadows grounds, you can’t help but notice the corporate sponsor signs. Some of the largest companies in the world are represented: Boeing, Rolex, Chrysler, Pepsi and Mercedes Benz. But we shouldn’t forget that about 30% of all the sponsorship comes from local oil and gas-related companies, including industry giants such as Suncor, Nexen and TransCanada to smaller firms specific to the energy sector.
The economic downturn of the past two years has seen companies reigning back on corporate sponsorships. Fortunately, their presence at Spruce Meadows remains – and is critical to maintaining peak performance in the ring.
“The Spruce Meadows model is quite distinct in our sport in that it is all corporately-funded prize money. But just as importantly, is the corporate and community component of Spruce Meadows, all of our corporates allow it to be accessible to anybody. That’s why we still have general admission at $5, children under 12 and seniors are admitted free,” says Ian Allison, Senior Vice-President at Spruce Meadows.
Thanks to the corporate sponsors, more than 430,000 people were able to visit Spruce Meadows last summer to catch the tournament competition. And thousands more come out just to take in the beautiful landscape and stroll the grounds.
But without continued corporate sponsorship will the facility continue to jump to new levels? Without support from corporate sponsors will Spruce Meadows be able to harness the benefits of stable-ized oil prices?