Saratoga polo club future uncertain

GREENFIELD – The Saratoga Polo Association has lost its bid to stop foreclosure proceedings.

On Oct. 23, Supreme Court Judge Ann Crowell ordered Green Fields Development LLC, Saratoga Polo-Catering and owners James Rossi and Michael Bucci to deliver to their commercial mortgage holder Pioneer Savings Bank “all rents, revenues, fees, income and other payments and benefits” and “entitled immediate possession thereof.”

In March, the bank initiated foreclosure proceedings on the 121-year-old polo club after it defaulted on a $3.2 million loan. Rossi and Bucci are appealing.

Pioneer Saving Bank’s attorney Eric Dratler said he could not comment on the litigation. Neither could Rossi, who said on Friday that the polo club “is in a very sensitive stage in our negotiations.”

Will Orthwein, a long-time member and player at the polo club, said the problems arose when Rossi and Bucci overborrowed on the 42-acre property on Bloomfield Road in an effort to fulfill their business plan for the property. That plan, Town of Greenfield Planning board minutes show, was to build single-family homes, and then condominiums, on a small portion of the property while preserving the polo fields.

According to Orthwein, who has a horse farm and polo fields next to the Saratoga Polo Club, a decade came and went and no builders wanted to take on the project in part because of the cost to bring in water and sewer lines. The situation “leaves polo in a delicate spot,” he said.

In April, it appeared that the Saratoga Polo Association would be sold to a New York investor, which Rossi said at the time, would resolve the debt issues.

While it’s unclear what happened with that deal, the summer did see a season of polo played on Fridays and Sundays. However, Orthwein said the level of play was “much lower than it had been in the past.” Orthwein, who is a third-generation polo player, said the situation has elicited uncertainty, which he said, kept some of the best polo players and sponsors away.

In recent decades, the polo club has undergone improvements including a field-side clubhouse to serve its membership. Orthwein said the club in past years had hosted many events at the clubhouse in the fall, but this year, it has not. He also said this year the polo field was cultivated for hay, something he’s never seen done before.

“They barely got it mowed in time for the season,” Orthwein said.

“If it is put in foreclosure, maybe someone can take over,” he said. “It’s a historical and cultural asset. I’m hopeful.”

Note: Story updated on Monday morning to indicate the appeal is still working its way through the courts.

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