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Monthly Archives: April 2012
There’s a new old game in town and a lot of very smart people are placing big bets on it.
The old game is polo, and this weekend it’s being played on white sand in front of the blue-green Atlantic in the fabulous and famously hot town of Miami Beach.
And though you won’t see any upfront betting on these very expensive ponies and their star-studded riders, behind the scenes there’s big money being wagered that polo will be the next global super-sport.
Event producers, sponsors, and advertisers are betting that polo, already a magnet for the super-rich, can attract a huge audience of average Joes, who even if they aren’t aspiring up the economic ladder can enjoy rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous and drinking, dressing and driving what’s being dangled in front of them as the good life.
Polo is being cross-marketed to a cross-section of the global population. And, while the usual high-end brands are big sponsors, middle-market and economy-brand sponsors and advertisers want in on the good life gravy train.
Reposted from Forbes, article by: Shah Gilani
Click link to continue reading: http://www.forbes.com/sites/shahgilani/2012/04/27/big-bets-on-polo-could-yield-billions/
After its appearance in Chicago, and on the way to a debut in China next year, beach polo returns to Miami Beach this weekend.
Thomas Kato first came across beach polo as a spectator five years ago on Miami Beach.
He was hooked.
“I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen,” said the businessman, who lives in Miami and New York. “I said, ‘I need to play in this game.’ And I said, ‘I don’t even know how to ride horses.’”
Over the past few years, he’s bought horses, found a polo pro and learned how to play the “sport of kings.” And the credit card processing company that he founded and oversees as CEO, Merchant Hub, has become a sponsor over the last few years.
That’s the kind of devotion that a network of polo aficionados, led by promoter Bruce Orosz, is hoping to create around the world.
Miami Beach Polo World Cup, which started with women’s matches on Thursday, marks its eighth year in Miami Beach with a new title sponsor (Maserati) and an expansion last fall to Chicago under its belt.
Jamie Morrison will play this weekend in the 2012 Maserati Miami Beach Polo Cup on the sands of South Beach alongside teammates Luis Escobar and Thomas Kato for Lufthansa Private Jets and once again against Nacho Figueras.
Morrison sat down with Anna Tyzack and shared his history with the sport of polo and what he calls the perfect weekend.
Unless something extraordinary happens, I play polo every weekend, which is exactly how I like it. I look forward to it all week and take it very seriously. On Friday night I never want to go too crazy as I’m worried about being off form for the game on Saturday morning. My ideal would be a quiet dinner with some friends at the local pub – it’s a far cry from any of the racy antics portrayed in Jilly Cooper’s book Polo.
Saturday morning is invariably an early start as the game gets under way at 10am and I’ll want to spend some time getting focused beforehand. People often assume polo is only played on grass in the summer in Britain – which used to be the case – but now, with arena polo, it can be played all year round. I have two strings of ponies; one for winter and one for summer. I adore all of them but Twiggy is my favourite for winter and Louisa is my top pony for summer.
It was my dad, Bryan Morrison [former music mogul, manager of Pink Floyd and publisher of music by Elton John, the Bee Gees and Wham] who got me into polo. He started playing when he was about 30, having never so much as sat on a horse before. He went to watch a game at Ham Polo Club on the edge odf west London and that was that: love at first sight. He learnt to play and soon afterwards founded the Royal Berkshire Polo Club with Prince Charles as the first member. Prince William and Prince Harry have played with us on many occasions.
That said, our membership is much more diverse than you might think. It ranges from successful entrepreneurs to kids just taking up the game. My father’s view was that if anyone wanted to play polo, they should have a right to do it. Back when he started, the game was a bit stuffy and old money and Army; the arrival of an Essex boy made good changed everything. Whenever Dad saw something he thought was special, he believed everyone should be able to do it, not just the privileged. He once saw a real tennis club he liked; so he bought it, and opened it up to new members. That’s what he was like.
It was Dad who brought arena polo to Britain. He was in Chicago on a business trip for George Michael and saw a sign for polo. He followed the signs for a few blocks until he reached an underground arena. When he got back home he built a similar all-weather arena at home and we started playing through the winter. Now, 18 years later, arena polo is a serious business, ensuring the top players don’t necessarily zip back to Argentina or Barbados during our winter. On Wednesday I’m playing at London’s O2 Arena for the Gaucho International.
*Posted story By Anna Tyzack, of The Telegraph – “Jamie Morrison, England polo player, shares his favourite weekend”.
Luis Escobar enjoys living and playing polo in Wellington and wants to share his passion with the world.
Escobar first came to Wellington with his parents in 1978 when he was 7 and was hooked. He finished high school in Costa Rica, then moved to Wellington in 1989 and attended Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, graduating with a marketing degree. Escobar played polo when he could, basing his operation out of Santa Clara Polo Club, which his father purchased in 1984. “My father named it after my mom’s third name, Clara,” said Escobar. “Santa stands for Saint. He realized she had to be a Saint if she was married to him, hence the name Santa Clara.”
As a 7 goal player, Escobar just finished the season playing for Coca-Cola in the US Open and this week will play for the 4th year in a row at the 2012 Maserati Miami Beach World Polo Cup for the Lufthansa Private Jet team alongside National Team Captain for the UK team, Jamie Morrison and Merchant Hub CEO and team patron, Thomas Kato.
The Miami Beach World Polo Cup takes place on the sands of South Beach April 26th-29th. Escobar had this to say about the tournament, “I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s one of the best events for polo. The people who come here really get into it. The horses love it, the players are good. The quality of players they are bringing is getting better and better every year. So it’s getting very, very competitive, it’s going to get harder and harder every year”.
“Luis has an incredible reputation in the world of polo and has won countless tournaments over the last 30 years, I’m honored to play in my first professional polo match alongside him”, said teammate and team patron, Thomas Kato.
Lufthansa is sponsoring both men’s and women’s matches at the 2012 Miami Beach World Polo Cup after winning the 2011 Chicago Beach Polo.
Merchant Hub returns as a supporting team sponsor for the 8th annual 2012 Maserati Miami Beach Polo World Cup, the world’s largest and most prestigious Beach Polo competition, taking place from April 26th to April 29th between 20th and 22nd streets on the sands of South Beach, Florida. Merchant Hub CEO, Thomas Kato – Patron of the team, has acquired 2 of the top professional players and polo favorites, Jamie Morrison and Luis Escobar.
“This year’s Maserati Miami Beach Polo World Cup is expected to be our most distinguished tournament to-date,” said Bruce Orosz, President and Co-Founder of The Polo Life, LLC. “Merchant Hub is thrilled to be apart of such an esteemed event that attracts the top polo players from all over the world,” said Thomas Kato, CEO of Merchant Hub & Merchant Hub Polo Team Patron. Kato will also be making his debut into the polo world as a player in his first professional polo match.
General admission to competitions and adjacent Retail Village is free, and concessions will be available to purchase. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for purchase. VIP tickets allow entrance to the shaded Grand stand, where free food and drinks are served. A percentage of all ticket sales will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami, the tournament’s official charity partner.
For more information on the tournament and the events or to purchase VIP tickets, visit http://www.miamipolo.com or call 305-538-3809.
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