By Kamala Kirk
Since 2011, the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships has been the United States’ premier polo event, attracting thousands of people from around the world, including top polo players, sponsors and celebrities.
This year’s event will return on November 7 under a new name, The Stella Artois Polo Classic: Presented by Ketel One, accompanied by socially distanced safety measures and a focus on helping charities, schools and nonprofits.
“This year we wanted to send a different message to everyone,” says Jason Rose, the event’s co-founder and co-owner. “We still want people to come out and have a great time, but things are going to be a little different due to the current environment. We’ve had to balance everything in order to put together this year’s event. Next year, we expect to return to our original name and event.”
The Polo Classic will be held at WestWorld of Scottsdale at 10:30 a.m. with three polo matches. Arizona Polo Club and Andres Camacho Castilla will play Colombia in the featured match.
The signature charity match of the day—The EPR Polo introduces The Celebrity Cruises Match Up supporting Arizona Equine Rescue and Southwest Wildlife—will be the day’s highest-goal polo match and will feature professional polo players John Gobin and Jared Sheldon.
“We have some professional polo players participating in our featured match that have never played at the event before, so we’re very excited that some of the best polo players in the world will be able to experience this unique event for the first time,” Rose says.
For the first time, Morehouse College Polo Club from the private, historically Black college in Atlanta, will play in the event against the Women’s All-Stars for a “Battle of the Sexes” match.
“Our event has always been progressive, and we partner with the African American community every year in innovative ways,” Rose says. “We’re happy to have Morehouse College, which Martin Luther King Jr. attended and was the first historically Black college to have a polo team, joining us this year.”
Attendees can also look forward to the presence of local restaurants and food trucks; a selection of unique sculptures by acclaimed artist Pete Deise; the Molina Fine Jewelers VIP Lounge; Sanderson Lincoln Black Label Lounge; the Barrett-Jackson Outdoor Polo & Jazz Lounge; and a display of collector cars, including McLarens. Between matches, The World’s Longest Catwalk Fashion Show will be presented by Phoenix Fashion Week, as well as The Lugari Canine Couture Dog Fashion Show.
New sponsors for this year’s event include Celebrity Cruises, Mark-Taylor Residential, Bud Light Seltzer and McLaren Scottsdale. Another sponsor is the “Million Dollar Mingle,” a high-profile luxury fundraising organization led by former NFL player AC Caswell, which brings together professional athletes, celebrities and others to raise money for nonprofits.
Due to COVID-19, limited tickets will be available for the 2020 event and must be purchased in advance as a result of new safety protocols. In lieu of its oversized tents, the Polo Classic will be entirely open air with umbrellas and feature an extensive social distancing plan that includes expanded sideline parking and lawn seating, an elevated South Road seating option, and reserved seating areas with more space between tables. Other measures and protocols will include mandatory masks, temperature checks and sanitation stations.
In addition to rigorous reviews by the Scottsdale police, fire and tourism officials, the event was also certified by HealthyVerify, a medically based, scientific and professional, full-service certification company that has partnered with ASU and Barrow Neurological Institute to help minimize the spread of infectious diseases. By going a step further with the additional verification, Rose wants to ensure guests’ comfort, safety and confidence during the event.
“This year we want to let the event breathe and we’ve expanded our sideline parking, which people love because you can drive your car right up to the field,” he says. “We’ve also done away with our Birds Nest area at the entrance, where people would dance and drink amidst all the action. We still have some spectacular VIP sections, and we’ve also created space for charities so they can raise money at the event.”
Charities and nonprofits are the other main focus of this year’s event, which is dedicated to helping schools and organizations whose fundraising and operations were devasted in the past months. The Polo Classic is offering the chance for local charities to raise money utilizing its unique platform and event, and all participating organizations will keep all of the revenue generated from ticket and table sales.
A post-event concert with local rock legend Roger Clyne will take place adjacent to the field and is being produced by Scottsdale Airpark-based R Entertainment. Tickets for the concert are available separately at scottsdaleconcertseries.com.
“We’re really excited about the concert and are planning to include that as part of our program in the upcoming years,” Rose says.
“When we first created this in 2011, our goal was to create the Phoenix Open of polo, and now people around the world know about our event. Some of the best and most famous polo players have played here, and we’ve been blessed to have wonderful partners and sponsors throughout the years. Every year we’ve been audacious and creative, putting things out there that have created an atmosphere that is unlike anything else in the world of polo.”
The Stella Artois Polo Classic:
Presented by Ketel One
10:30 a.m. Saturday, November 7
WestWorld of Scottsdale,
16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale
Tickets start at $20