HITS-Balmoral Park on its way to becoming premier hunter/jumper equestrian center
HITS Sponsorship Director Chris Mayone shares plans for HITS-Balmoral Park at a recent open house.
HITS-Balmoral’s transformation from a harness racetrack venue into a premier hunter/jumper equestrian center is now well underway. New owners HITS, Inc. (Horse Shows In The Sun) and Showplace Productions unveiled plans to remodel the park’s stabling to include modern amenities and construct six hunter rings and four jumper rings at an open house Aug. 10. The park is located at 26435 S. Dixie Highway in Crete.
HITS, Inc. purchased Balmoral Park in partnership with Pat Boyle of Showplace Productions in May of this year for $1.6 million. The park had been shuttered in January after the Illinois Racing Board decided to award harness racing dates only to Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, forcing Balmoral owners into bankruptcy. The park had hosted horse racing since 1926.
The new owners plan to transform the site into a show jumping destination for equine enthusiasts from the Midwest and around the world. They will keep the park’s name and memorable symbols from the past and present, specifically in the Grand Prix Stadium, which will display the racetrack’s original tote board.
Onsite camp grounds and a dog park are also in the works to accommodate show participants and their families. Click here for blueprint plans and maps.
HITS-Balmoral will begin hosting horseshows in May 2017. They will run until the fall, and be the first of their kind in the Midwest. The goal is to meet standards set forth by other HITS shows including United States Equestrian Federation Rated National & Premiere Hunters, four- and five-star jumpers, a United States Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby, International Federation for Equestrian Sports-rated events (pending approval), and events that qualify for the HITS Championship.
“May through September will be the busy season in the Southland,” said HITS Sponsorship Director Chris Mayone. “It will be up to the region to provide lodging, meals and entertainment.”
This was great news for Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Jim Garrett who co-hosted the open house with CSCVB staff. He envisions new hotels, restaurants and more sprouting nearby as tourists and show participants descend upon the region.
Indeed, Mayone said that they were actively seeking hotel partnerships as well as banquet/restaurant vendors.
During the rest of the year, the park will be available for special or rental events, clinics, boarding, lessons, training and eventually dining and other activities. The community is welcome to observe the shows even though hunter/jumper events are not generally considered spectator sports.
For all inquiries about Balmoral Park, or to set up a tour, please contact Siri DuPont-Hurley at Siri@hitsshows.com.
More photos are here.