Huntington Beach Polo Club–What ever happened to the polo club and games they played at Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center?
If you spend much time driving by the horse stables visible from Golden West Street across from the Sports Complex, you may remember the weekend polo games, and maybe you even stopped to watch. I was one of those fans who grew up watching polo in the Midwest. I’ll never forget heading out to the green lawns and stepping on the grass to smooth it for the next round. The beautiful white tents, tablecloths and ladies in the fine summer hats all spoke of money and time on your hands.
It was exciting to see that Huntington Beach had polo games when I arrived into town and settled here. I went some Saturday afternoons to watch the excitement in a fast-paced match, then went home to brush off the dust in fields that weren’t quite as glamorous as the country clubs in Chicago, but nevertheless, provided a flavor of the game and its thrills in a style of polo called arena polo. Arena polo really fit with Huntington Beach, I thought, but something didn’t work out, and one day it was gone.
When the equestrian center changed its operations, discontinuing not only those big events such as the GTE Summer Classic, and when the polo team left, it was sad to see the venue become more focused on the bread&butter weddings, meetings, events, and stable rents. It’s show business, as they say.
But it’s with some delight that I discovered that polo lives on in OC. The original Orange County Polo Club that was launched in Anaheim in
the 1980s and moved to Huntington Beach for about 15 years, has found a new home. After playing at El Toro Marine base for several seasons till forced to move out for the Great Park, one of the players has decided it’s time to build an arena so they can continue the sport. Denny Geiler, owner of Newport
Beach-based SoCal Self Storage and cofounder of the OC Polo Club, is investing in the club’s future by moving forward with plans to build an arena at Coto de Caza Equestrian Center.
Talk about jumping through the hoops! Coto de Caza (gated community) residents had to give their blessings to the arena plans, but they weren’t so certain that that the polo
field wouldn’t be disruptive. Things have turned around and some Coto residents are thinking of even joining the club, which currently charges just under $2000 for an annual membership, arena polo will secure not only a place to play, but a tradition spanning nearly 30 years in Orange County, Calif. An existing stables has room for 300 horses and with some spaces available, will allow the likes of Huntington Beach resident and polo club member David Schuberth to board his horse in South Orange County if he wants.
For us polo fans, we won’t be invited into the games, I’m guessing. Coto residents unfamiliar with polo games and arena play in the gated Coto thought there would be a lot of traffic, nighttime lights and noisy people watching the game in giant stands, according to Geiler, who’s working to get plans approved for the arena as a permanent home for a beloved sport.
Known as a sport for the mature and well-to-do, people often begin playing polo later in life in this expensive hobby costing more than golf. There are approx. 25 arena polo clubs in California.
Huntington Beach, Calif.–You can call it a staycation if you like. But one thing’s for certain. HB locals are out raising more money for sick kids, having more contests for special causes, and attending events in larger numbers during this economic slumber. Nearly every week a school, group or cause is hosting a dog frisbee disc contest, a car show or 5K run. It’s a good thing! The benefits excess include: more activities on weekeneds; more opportunities to connect for causes; and more things for tourists to do while in town.
This week, for instance, a tourist contacted me to say she was amazed there were so many things going on. She thanked me for my volunteer efforts at rounding up events and posting them on my site, Huntingtonbeachevents.com, and said she looks forward to visiting Huntington Beach.
I started this website when there was a lack of comprehensive listings of events in Huntington Beach, and I mainly wanted to know what was going on. At that time, I do believe there were less special events happening. I had to divest of my personal publication as I began promoting Huntington Beach tourism for the City’s non-profit marketing arm, the Huntington Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau, it was called (recently I saw it named Huntington Beach Marketing Bureau.) I returned to my personal efforts when I left that job after two years of creating a calendar for the Conference and Visitors Bureau in Huntington Beach. What has happend in the past several years is nothing short of amazing. Now blogs make it possible for every group to post info about their events, and calendar of events software also allows you to spread the word with five minutes and click.
The Huntington Beach news community has grown tremendously. Some “reporters” are paid and most are not. The newspapers still provide a minority voice in the coverage with The Wave and Huntington Beach Independent being the two primary sources. Someone near & dear to me covers many events and offers his stories and photos to my publications, and a print newspaper. Then there’s the paid video guy, Matt Liffering, and the non-paid city historian, Jerry Persons, who both attend many events in Huntington Beach. Not to forget, Joe Shaw and his contributors for his blog. Several realtors have launched blogs, surfers with a camera have expanded their “jobs” and more and more info is spread online.
Where is it all going? I was a newspaper reporter and photographer at one time before I did all this stuff. As I saw budgets decline, I began building websites maybe 10 years ago. While I believe the reporters are honest and stick with the facts, some of the newspapers are doing a major disservice the social networking online effort. I have insider info from individuals who are actually paid and solicited to blog for major newspapers, with the task of simply posting comments to columns as their “job”. By posting a comment, they give the paper a positive vote (the old system of negative votes was removed). It is a fabrication of the news and a disturbing trend that hopefully one day will end. It is done to increase visibility in organic search in search engines. It’s ultimately about revenue, and has allowed credibility to take a back seat. It is simply survival, one of these sources told me.
The good news is that events are more plentiful than ever, and if you have something of popular appeal, appropriately priced, and well timed, your success at hosting an event is favorable, thanks to the Internet and social networking.