Mike West, CEO of the Omaha Equestrian Foundation (OEF), which is producing the 2017 FEI World Cup™ Finals, brings enthusiasm, marketing expertise and a whole lot of big ideas to the table. Mike, a longtime Omaha sports marketing stalwart, brought a strategic element to the growth of International Omaha, an annual top-level jumping and dressage competition run by the OEF. The founder of MTT Management, a consulting firm that works with sports organizations and community events to expand brands and build support, Mike previously served as the senior advisor for the Omaha Lancers hockey team. From 1997-2002, Mike served as tournament director for the Cox Classic golf tournament. Under his guidance, the Cox Classic grew into one of Omaha’s premier annual events and one of the top stops on the PGA-sanctioned Web.com Tour.
Following his time with the Cox Classic, Mike spent 11 years as the assistant athletic director of marketing at Creighton University. Under Mike’s guidance, Creighton’s seven major sports enjoyed unprecedented fan growth and by 2011, Creighton stood as the only Division 1 University to rank in the nation’s top ten in attendance in three different sports.
What should riders and spectators expect during the 2017 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Omaha?
The Omaha Equestrian Foundation is pulling out all the stops as promised when we won the right to host the FEI World Cup™ Finals. It’s the first time the Midwest has hosted an FEI World Cup™ competition and it will be the first professional world sports championship ever held in the city of Omaha. The CenturyLink Center is a world-class, state-of-the art venue that offers superb equestrian facilities and comfort for the spectators. The OEF has already held five successful international caliber events there, all of which received rave reviews by the competitors, spectators and even the horses!
We’ve created a unique Boutique Shopping Village that will feature over 140 vendors plus the new Tailgate Lounge that will offer great dining options and entertainment. All of these were designed specifically around the warm-up arena so visitors will be able to browse, shop and eat — all while watching the world’s best riders warm up their top horses.
People know about Las Vegas and Paris and other previous locations where the FEI World Cup™ Finals have been held … can you tell them more about what makes Omaha special?
Not only will visitors be impressed with the venue and competition, but also with the city of Omaha itself. It’s an energetic, breathtaking metropolis with a bounty of attractions including beautiful hotels, top restaurants, museums, art galleries, antique shops, entertainment and so much more.
Finding fun in Omaha couldn’t get any easier for visitors to this dynamic city. The top 15 attractions have already been mapped out and visitors just have to follow the Giant Blue Push Pins to really make the most of their trip. Each location offers year-round, unique Omaha experiences and there’s something of interest for everyone. Some of the must-see attractions include the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, aka Bob, the first and longest pedestrian bridge to link two states — Nebraska and Iowa. The 3,000-foot-long walkway stretches across the Missouri River and gives pedestrians a spectacular view of Omaha’s skyline. The 28-acre Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium features the world’s largest indoor desert and America’s largest indoor rainforest, offering breathtaking panoramic views and long vistas teeming with African wildlife. Who would’ve thought that a trip to Omaha would be the next-best thing to actually being in Africa!
Just a short walk from the CenturyLink Center is the Old Market Entertainment District, where visitors can stroll down cobblestone streets lined with shops, pubs, art galleries and distinctive Omaha restaurants while enjoying the sounds from street musicians. The legendary Omaha steakhouses will satisfy the most finicky carnivores and it’s worth sampling a Reuben on its home turf, as Omaha is credited for inventing the popular sandwich despite what New Yorkers may say. For something different, hop on an Omaha Culinary Tour for a unique culinary sampling experience or take a sip out of one (or many) of Omaha’s famous craft breweries — among the most talked about in the beer world. In addition, there are high-end restaurants, sidewalk cafes, burger joints and ethnic eateries in every flavor and tradition.
What drew you personally to the Omaha Equestrian Foundation and thus the FEI World Cup™ Finals?
I was excited by the opportunity to run an international sporting event in Omaha on a level that had never been done before. To be a part of a “first” is exciting and challenging.
For people who are interested in being part of the Finals, what should they do?
A variety of ticket packages are still available for each of the Finals, but the VIP tickets are the best seats in the house and include access to the VIP Hospitality Lounge throughout the event! The VIP Hospitality Lounge will feature full meals, open bar and other amenities, all included with each VIP ticket. There are also All-Session tickets available and each All-Session package includes admission to five sessions.
Hospitality Packages are also available. The elegant suites are spacious, comfortable and overlook the entire arena with seating for 20-25 people. Wait service, food, drink and access to the VIP Lounge are included throughout the event. Ringside tables get you up close to the action in comfort and style with In-Arena seating for eight people, complimentary wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres along with access to the VIP Lounge throughout the event.
For more information about the 2017 FEI World Cup™ Finals, hotels and ticket information, please go to www.OmahaWorldCup2017.com.