Mark Bellissimo brings rise to equestrian sports in Western North Carolina
Situated on 1,600 acres, Tryon Resort and International Equestrian Center offers 13 arenas for horse shows, as well as hotel and cabin lodging, seven restaurants, shops, and live entertainment.; (inset) Mark Bellissimo
The sprawling horse complex in Mill Spring known as Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) is the creation of former tech entrepreneur and real estate mogul Mark Bellissimo, who, along with his partners, wanted to create a world-class equine megaplex that would attract the best riders from all around the globe. Though he has acquired a fortune, Bellissimo, a Boston native, comes from middle-class stock. So when his daughters took up the sport and began spending weekends at events, the lack of possibilities for kids from modest origins bothered him.
Now, Bellissimo and his partners operate three of the largest equestrian ventures in the world: TIEC; the Colorado Horse Park; and the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida. To prepare TIEC on such short notice, Bellissimo and his team are backed by the support of a community that is as passionate about horses as he is. The games, he believes, offer a golden opportunity to resurrect the region’s economy and extend the area’s century-old equine tradition far into the future, and in the process, bring the outside world into the sport.
“While we viewed this as a business opportunity, we were equally inspired by the prospect of re-energizing a community,” says Bellissimo. “We look forward to providing more jobs and building an industry, all through the love of horses. Because our facility and resort will be here after the games, we are in an ideal position to bring continued economic development to this region through our ongoing efforts and the global awareness we will receive from hosting.”
In the meantime, his focus is on gearing the center up for the games. As for measuring the success once the festivities are over? Bellissimo says, “My goal is for everyone involved to walk away saying they had a great experience and can’t wait to come back.”
Photographs by (Bellissimo) Mike Belleme & (Tryon International Equestrian Center) Erik Olsen