Show Jumping

The 2020 FEI World Cup Finals to Return to the Oddly Shaped Thomas & Mack Arena

The Longines FEI Jumping and Dressage World Cup™ Finals are returning to Las Vegas in 2020.

Hurrah!

But…they’re back at the oddly shaped Thomas & Mack Center arena.

Hmmm.

T&M has undergone a two-year overhaul with $75 million in renovations since last hosting the Finals in 2015.

Hurrah!

But…none of those improvements happened to involve the keyhole shaped ring.

Hmmm.

Sin City was awarded the Final for the seventh time in November 2016. (The 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2015 Finals were all held at Thomas & Mack arena). For 2018, however, there was to be a venue change for the joint show jumping and dressage championship. The MGM Grand Garden Arena was to host—that is, until “unforeseen complications with scheduling at the new venue” got in the way.

(The events calendar on the MGM Grand website doesn’t stretch past November 2019, so it’s not clear who/what is to blame. But if we were to start a rumor based on wild speculation and their current line up of entertainment, we’d wager on the UFC. Or Katy Perry.)

Among the improvements made at Thomas & Mack Center since 2015 are enhanced stabling for the horses, new arena seats, new entrances and escalators, upgraded concessions and restrooms, new floors, additional ADA seating, and improvements to the sound system. The most notable addition, according to the press release, is “a brand new 36,000 square-foot, two-story VIP space.” Which is great news for the vast minority?

What the renovations do not include is an oval shaped arena. But that’s really only a problem if:

  • you’re course designer Anthony d’Ambrosio circa 2015 (his courses came under criticism after the Final)
  • you happened to be in charge of the footing in 2015, which chef d’equipe Robert Ridland deemed “subpar”
  • your horse doesn’t jump well in small, oddly shaped arenas
  • you’re riding for Team USA. The World Cup has been won by an American four times in the past six years, but never in Las Vegas. (To date, McLain Ward and Sapphire are the only American combination to log a podium finish in Vegas, finishing second in 2009.)

The take-away lesson here: Best start training in tight spaces. (We’re looking at you, Team USA.)