The Scottsdale Polo Party won’t be celebrating its 10th anniversary in quarantine.
The most-attended polo event in North America is still on – but under a new name.
Created and organized by the owners of the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, the Stella Artois Polo Classic will take place of the Polo Party at WestWorld of Scottsdale in November.
The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, however, will return in 2021.
“We had a blow-out, blockbuster plan for November with incredible new elements along with old favorites. We have adjusted, to say the least,” said event co-founder Jason Rose.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience, a safe experience, fun experience, but we wanted to start the messaging with the name change,” Rose added.
At the Stella Artois Polo Classic, expect a much more open-air experience: tables will be spaced six feet apart; tailgating (the most popular ticket option) will include increased space between cars; the VIP tent will be expanded to 100 yards; and the Riot House DJ tent will be more of an open-air concert.
“Our canvas is gigantic," Rose said, adding the event will include “some very progressive things to maintain the essence of why people love this event” while also addressing any safety concerns.
The event will not only have an increased number of entrances, but it will also implement more safety protocols, including having the tented areas modeled after guidelines for restaurants.
And while masks are not required, “fashionable” masks will be included in this year’s ticket price.
“We’ve taken a very, I think, thoughtful approach. This is our plan today. It will continue to be refined,” Rose said.
According to Rose, the increased distancing shouldn’t impact the number of people they allow into the event that typically draws thousands of people.
Last year alone, the Scottsdale Polo Party had more than 12,000 attendees.
“[Attendees] can feel confident in coming based on preparations that have taken place as well as the fact that our environment is entirely outdoors,” Rose said. “It seems people are expressing more comfort being outdoors than being indoors.”
New to the event this year: a prom for high school students who missed their own.
Every high school student with an ID will be able to attend the Polo Classic – including the prom – for free.
“It was heartbreaking to see graduations cancel their celebrations and proms and the greatest moments in people’s lives. So, we said, can we do something to help?” Rose said.
This also led the organizers to put a greater emphasis on giving back to nonprofits and schools.
Nonprofits and schools can host fundraisers or donor “thank you” events with zero or very little cost through sales of tickets and tables in their own reserved areas.
The Polo Classic will also donate tables to organizations that would like to participate to use as they please, and the nonprofits and schools can keep all of the revenue generated from their ticket and table sales.
“We sent out letters to every charity in town,” Rose said, adding that, so far, they’ve received interest from a few.
The Polo Classic will still host a couple crowd-favorite events, including the Canine Couture Dog Fashion Show and the World’s Longest Catwalk Fashion Show by Phoenix Fashion Week.
“Interestingly enough, a lot of our elements just allow for social distancing,” Rose said.
Organizers considered canceling this year’s Polo Party.
“There are people that said, ‘Hey, skip a year,’” Rose said. “And when you look at sports events, the Wimbledon said, ‘We’re not moving forward this year.’ The British Open said, ‘We’re not moving forward this year.’ Other events are moving forward without fans.”
But two things propelled organizers forward.
“One was the response from customers. The significant majority said this is one of [their] favorite events of the year [and they] always look forward to it,” Rose said.
The second was the space.
“We have a massive field outdoors to work with. The polo field is three times the size of an American football field,” Rose said.
Their biggest challenge to moving forward with the event was economic uncertainty.
“Every major event is going through right now: If you in spend all of this money up front and you have a resurgence of COVID in the fall and the government comes in and shut you down, that’s a very bad thing from a business standpoint to happen. You have to think through all of that. What sponsors will come back? What type of tickets will people buy?” Rose said.
But Rose is hopeful that this year’s event will be a fun experience.
“And then in 2021, it will return. Knock on wood, it will return,” Rose said.
The Stella Artois Polo Classic will be held either Nov. 7 or 14 at WestWorld of Scottsdale, and medical professionals, active military, and veterans can attend the event for free.
The final date and all details will be released no later than Aug. 15.