Polo matches aren’t as hoity-toity as people think — at least not at the Vero Beach Polo Club.
On eight Sundays from Jan. 23 through April 10, the public can pay $15 to watch polo matches at the residential club on 12th Street between 74th and 82nd avenues. Polo ground gates will open at 12:30 p.m. for tailgating before the 2 p.m. matches.
The number of attendees is expected to vary from 100 to 500, depending on the weekend, said Frank Evans, a polo club managing partner who also plays on Sundays.
In 2020, the club cut the season short in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Evans said. Last year, the season consisted of only one monthly match for four months, with spaced-out, limited spots to be cautious.
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Tailgating before polo matches
People can park or back into any spot that’s not marked for season tailgate spots, which cost between $800 and $1,100.
They can bring chairs and set up a table, a tent or the back of a vehicle while they enjoy food and drinks throughout the games. Friendly pets must be leashed at all times.
The east side contains mostly public spots where people can get closer to the center line, but they eventually will be looking into the sun. Some public spots are available on the west side with the announcer tower, but those spots are farther from the center line.
Pro tip: Set up on the north end of the east side because there’s more action, with horses coming and going from their trailers.
“It’s a much more active place to be,” Evans said.
It’s a fan-friendly event, where people can visit the trailers, see the horses and learn about the sport. During halftime, everyone walks the field for the divet stomp, filling in grassy holes made by horse hooves.
Vero Beach Polo Club matches
At the Vero Beach Polo Club, the ages of the polo ponies range from 6 to teens. These athletes are changed out constantly to protect them from overuse. An average of 50 ponies are there on Sundays with eight to nine players each bringing six to eight ponies.
Some of the players come from across the state to play on Sundays and some are international, including players from Argentina, France, Austria and the United Kingdom.
Some players are local. One of the club’s pros is Tiffany Busch, who grew up playing in Vero Beach and came from a family of polo players.
The polo field is regulation size, at 300 by 160 yards — bigger than nine football fields.
The announcer educates the audience throughout the matches, explaining penalties and the score. Speakers are set up on both sides of the field.
Sometimes the games are a tournaments and other times just in-club matches, depending on the weekend. They typically lasts two to three hours.
Check the website for the schedule, game-day changes and rainout information.
Vero Beach Polo matches
- When: 2 p.m. Sundays through April 10 (except Feb. 6 and 20 and March 6 and 27); gates open at 12:30 p.m. for tailgating
- Where: Vero Beach Polo Club, 1084 E. Polo Grounds Lane, on 12th Street between 74th and 82nd avenues
- Cost: $15 per person, cash only (infants free)
- Phone: 772-321-3082
- Website: theverobeachpoloclub.com
- Social media: facebook.com/verobeachpolo
Laurie K. Blandford is TCPalm’s entertainment reporter and columnist dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Follow her on Twitter @TCPalmLaurie and Facebook @TCPalmLaurie. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for her What To Do in 772 weekly newsletter at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Vero Beach Polo Club matches, tailgating run Sundays through April