The 2018 Bromont World Equestrian Games are on shaky ground in the midst of five board members resigning over the weekend, including CEO Luc Fournier and Chairman François Duffar. Board members Julie Payette, Rene Perreault and Linda Heathcott also resigned.
This is the second CEO resignation for the Games in as many years. The original CEO Paul Côté resigned less than a year after he was hired, and now Luc Fournier has followed suit, resigning eight months after filling the position.
The Bromont 2018 Organizing Committee (COJEM) released a statement explaining the resignations:
“Faced with a number of issues since the beginning of their respective mandates, the two leaders came to the conclusion that, without major changes and the reiteration of their strong support from all partners and stakeholders, they will not be able to deliver and to stage the Games as planned in two years.
“They therefore resigned from their positions, both for professional reasons and in the hope of delivering a necessary wake up call.”
Luc Fournier, who has more than 30 years of experience in organizing major sporting events in Canada, spoke candidly to La Voix de l’Est, Bromont’s regional newspaper, about his decision to resign: “I reached the conclusion that I will not be able to deliver a quality product … It will take someone better equipped than me to do it.”
Luc told La Voix de l’Est that the financial terms set forth by the FEI to fund the Games also had spurred him to resign: “We also told FEI was asked repeatedly to ease its financing terms. And this is only one example among many. We give them money, but in turn, they have no responsibility.”
The budget for the 2018 WEG is estimated at about $95 million in all, and the current amount that has been raised falls far short of that hefty total. Horse-Canada.com has a detailed breakdown of the Games budget here (note that this article was published prior to Luc’s resignation).
Luc said he also resigned in part due to an ongoing feud between COJEM and the Agricultural Society of Shefford County (SACS), which is overseeing the planning and construction of the infrastructure for the Games: “We must speak with one voice, have the same vision.”
Bromont’s Mayor Pauline Quinlan said she still believes that the city can successfully host the Games: “I believed and I still believe. We will hope that this shock brings all stakeholders to sit down and see if it is possible …”
The FEI Bureau voted unanimously in June 2014 to award the 2018 World Equestrian Games to Bromont, which beat out Lexington, Kentucky as the only other contender.
It originally looked like the Games would automatically be awarded to Bromont, as the remaining bid countries had all withdrawn their applications by January 2013. But the FEI reopened the bid process in July 2013 due to concerns that Bromont would not be able to secure the financial support necessary to host the Games.
Now, nearly three years later, the Games are indeed facing financial hurdles in addition to organizational and infrastructure challenges. The remaining five board members are pressing on, and Horse-Canada.com reported that new Interim CEO Rosaire Houde is “optimistic about the future.”
COJEM is expected to approve new board members and leadership roles within the Organizing Committee this week.