Story Courtesy of CLICKPOLOUSA.

While the 2019 Argentine Open took place, the Federation of International Polo (FIP) held its thirty-seventh annual meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and elected the United States to host the 2021 FIP World Polo Championship at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, home to the popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

CLICKPOLOUSA spoke with Alex Haagen III, owner of the Empire Polo Club, to find out more about the planning procedures. In preparation for the 2021 FIP World Cup, Empire Polo Club will work closely with the United States Polo Association (USPA) and FIP to ensure the tournament goes smoothly, including utilizing Haagen’s experienced event staff to guarantee a successful competition.

Alex Haagen III said, “I’m excited to have the FIP World Cup take place at Empire Polo Club. Empire Polo Club is a world-class polo and event facility with the capacity to handle the horses, fields for tournament play and audience for this event. In addition, we have five unique event venues onsite, beautifully landscaped gardens, refreshing fountains and unique art placed throughout the property. This makes Empire Polo Club the perfect location for an event like the FIP World Cup.”

Alex Haagen III

Alex Haagen III, owner of the Empire Polo Club.

Haagen has an extensive polo background. Along with his son (Alex Haagen IV), they started playing Polo in 1983 at Fair Hills Polo & Hunt Club (Topanaga, California), an indoor polo facility. “We were instantly hooked on the sport. In 1984, we headed out to the California desert to participate in a polo clinic which introduced us to grass polo, desert-style, at Eldorado Polo Club [Indio, California].” With the desert polo scene growing, Haagen continued to play there during the winter months. He stated, “in 1985, I purchased land and started to build stables. I later added more land to build our own grass fields and opened Empire Polo Club in 1987. Today, Empire Polo Club has 13 grass fields on more than 460 acres with stabling for more than 700 horses.”

Although polo continues to grow in America, Haagen agrees that promoting the sport to new potential players is crucial. “We need to target an affluent demographic in regions where there is easy access to a polo club and polo school. Once we get people interested in learning to play, we need to ensure that they have a positive experience through each phase of the learning process.” The 2021 FIP World Polo Championship is expected to host a large crowd of spectators from around the world, including new and seasoned polo fans.

Five Facts About Empire Polo Club

1. Empire Polo Club is an active agricultural business. Bermuda grass hay, dates and lemons are harvested from the expansive property. In the winter months, more than 800 horses fill the stables and use the equestrian facilities for breeding, training, polo and hunter/jumper activities.

2. Medjhool Lake, one of the most beautiful venues at Empire Polo Club, was inspired by Monet’s paintings of his garden and water lily pond in Giverny, France. The Japanese footbridge, the purple lilies and turquoise boat are common subjects in Monet’s work during the years he spent at his Giverny home.

3. The Rose Garden at Empire Polo Club is one of the largest, private rose gardens in the Western United States. The garden contains more than 8,000 rose bushes and 65 varieties.

4. The first concert held at Empire Polo Club was Pearl Jam in 1993. The concert was held as a protest to boycott venues controlled by Ticketmaster. More than 25,000 fans attended the concert.

5. Empire Polo Club has built a new venue in Thermal, California. It is called Empire’s Grand Oasis and it will be unveiled this year. The first major event scheduled at the Grand Oasis will be a new music festival called 4xFAR and will feature an enchanting tropical lagoon, tiki bars, refreshing waterfalls, a polo field and estate home.

All Photos Courtesy of ©CLICKPOLOUSA.

EMPIRE POLO CLUB 

FAIR HILLS POLO & HUNT CLUB 

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