As clubs around the country face the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the disruption of normal business operations, many are feeling the effects of the prolonged suspension and delay of season schedules. Although some states and counties have begun to lessen the restrictions, many clubs are still without a clear date as to when they can fully resume tournament play and business as usual. As safety measures have resulted in other economic repercussions such as the loss of spectator revenue for the foreseeable future, club owners are looking for ways to offset these losses. In the interim, Dan Keating, President of Westchester Polo Club in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and his wife Agnes have looked for opportunities to use their facilities in a profitable way outside of the sport. Researching the idea of hosting social distancing events on the field, Westchester Polo Club is considering drive in movies in June and possibly hosting a local high school graduation. Following suit with their own event, Farmington Polo Club will be hosting a drive-in movie every Friday night starting June 5.
Below, the Keatings share points to consider and what they have learned in the process, encouraging clubs to come up with their own events if it is safe for them to do so.
Preserving the polo field: If having vehicles drive on polo fields is not an option another solution is to use the club’s parking lot.
Online sales: An important part of Westchester Polo Club’s plan is online ticket sales only, and contactless scanning at entry points.
- This reduces the safety hazard for the staff, minimizes lines and the additional complexities of sales at the gate.
- Westchester Polo Club has online reservations for specific tailgate positions. If a club does not have this set up, they can develop their own fixed parking plan with 10 ft distancing between parking positions and have attendants direct incoming cars to the next available position.
Movie screen: Oversized inflatable screens can be rented and installed quickly and easily. One source is https://www.funflicks.com/.
Sound: If the screen does not have its own sound clubs can use their polo audio system, a livestream audio service or FM transmitter.
Permits and licensing:
- Clubs should check with their municipality to see if their operating license for ticketed public events can be applied to this adapted business model. If clubs do not already have an existing business for this, then they will have to contact their municipality to find out where to start.
- Obtaining the rights to show movies with ticket sales is something each club needs to research individually. Clubs may be able to partner with a local movie house or contact movie distributors directly. The best fit will depend upon the size of the audience clubs intend to host.
State approval: Each state may require specific approvals. Contact the state business development office for more information.
Although this is a challenging time for many USPA members and clubs we can help one another by sharing ideas and models that have worked for individual clubs. Taking and adapting these ideas to suit the capabilities of needs of your club, we will get through this together. If you have any additional event ideas that could be hosted at clubs based on state and local laws and benefit the membership, the USPA encourages you to contact Communications Coordinator, Jewel Connelly, at firstname.lastname@example.org.