Morven Park broke ground earlier this month for a $15 million expansion that has caught the eye of Washington 2024, the committee organizing Washington D.C.’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
But no matter who wins the Olympic bid for a decade from now, the expansion is first and foremost designed to benefit riders in Virginia and beyond from all backgrounds, Suzanne Musgrave, Morven Park’s director of development and communications — and an eventer! — said.
“When the plans for the renovation started with our board of directors about five years ago, it was before D.C. ever thought about applying for the Olympic bid,” Suzanne said. “So regardless of whether or not D.C. gets the Olympics, we’re excited to continue serving all levels and all disciplines.”
Morven Park currently hosts more than 30 horse shows per year, and the expansion will give the venue the opportunity to expand into hosting shows in other disciplines like western and carriage driving, both of which have seen a rise in interest in recent years.
“As land disappears, we think it’s so important that Morven Park stays open as a resource for all horsemen,” Suzanne said. And, of course, the park has long served eventers, with the annual fall horse trials running this weekend with nearly 400 entries. The expansion will only bolster all the facility has to offer competitors in eventing.
Four new rings are slated for construction — totaling eight acres of arenas — with a spectator pavilion situated in the middle and a nearby berm offering a bird’s eye view of the action. “We’ve designed it with spectators in mind. You can sit on the berm and watch dressage in one ring and then show jumping in the next ring over, and then turn around and look at the start box for cross country.”
The cross-country course will also be getting a facelift, though Suzanne said Morven Park hasn’t yet tapped a designer and builder. “We’ve had Tremaine Cooper for many years, and he’s always done a fabulous job,” she said. “We started out with an idea of what we wanted, but we’ve had people come out to the property in the last year to look at the plans, and now they’ve changed.”
Top riders and trainers from multiple disciplines have weighed in on the plans, from David O’Connor, Boyd Martin and Jimmy Wofford on behalf of eventers to Joe Fargis for show jumping and Heather Briggs and Rachael Blanchard for driving.
“Our tagline has been ‘for riders, by riders’ because all of the plans have been developed by people who ride,” Suzanne said. “The input we’ve gotten is to keep it uniquely Morven Park and Virginia.”
And that philosophy fits in perfectly with Washington 2024’s plan for the Olympic bid. Bob Sweeney, president of the organizing committee, visited Morven Park in April to vet the site’s suitability for the bid, according to the Washington Business Journal.
Washington 2024 likes the fact that Morven Park is 20 miles from Dulles International Airport, 13 miles from the nearest Maryland Area Regional Commuter train station, and has parking spots for 10,000 vehicles. After enduring #ArmageddeonWEG, we like that, too.
In addition to D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston have also submitted bids to host the 2024 Olympics. The U.S. Olympic Committee will choose a bid city this fall to submit to the International Olympic Committee, which will choose the official 2024 host city next year.
In the meantime, Morven Park is shoring up donations to fund the expansion. “The board has allocated almost $1 million to get the project going, and Jacqueline Mars has also been instrumental in helping the expansion,” Suzanne said. Donations to fund the footing for the new arenas can be made at just $2.50 per square foot.
Morven Park is waiting for one final permit to be approved through Loudon County. As soon as that goes through, “we’ll get the bulldozers moving,” Suzanne said. Morven Park hopes to have the first phase of the expansion completed by next summer.
Right now, Morven Park has received enough in donations to fund the construction of the four new arenas. If you’re interested in donating to the expansion, please click here to contribute to the cause. Thank you to Morven Park for preserving and improving land for our great sport. Go Eventing.
More on Morven Park’s Expansion:
[Swim, ride and row: Loudoun, Washington 2024 eye three county venues for possible Olympic sites]
[Donate to Morven Park’s Capital Campaign]