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.