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Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2020
With a mere 48 hours remaining in the countdown to Opening Day, Newport Polo received the official go ahead that they and their fans anxiously awaited, to proceed with opening Season 29 of the Newport International Polo Series on Saturday, June 6th on schedule.
The Gallo Thomas Invitational replaced USA vs. Switzerland, and featured the home team, Newport against a rival team of players based in Tiverton, RI, to the cheers of a loyal and significantly reduced audience of spectators that witnessed the only live sporting event in the Northeast since the pandemic lockdown.
Dan Keating, President of Newport Polo explained "it would not have been possible without the leadership of Governor Raimondo, whose daily press conferences provided the guidelines for a proposal that we submitted at the beginning of May, before there was a website to guide reopening businesses.”
When Governor Raimondo commented, on April 16, on the likelihood of Newport’s Summer Festivals and Events, “if they happen, and I hope some do, it will be under different regulations, with fewer people, and a different kind of event…” Newport Polo took her words to heart.
With deep gratitude, Newport Polo credits the invaluable direction and guidance of the United States Polo Association and other key State leaders including RI Department of Business Regulation Deputy Director Julietta Georgakis, RI Commerce Corp’s John Riendeau, RI State Representative Terri-Denise Cortvriend, Portsmouth Town Administrator Richard Rainer and Discover Newport Tourism CEO Evan Smith. "In working with the State agencies to get the approval, we definitely felt that they were dedicated to finding solutions to help us open,” added Keating. "Our players and staff have made intensive preparations over the past weeks to deliver the Newport Polo experience that many have come to love."
Spectators comments included that the match had the nostalgia of Newport Polo’s ‘90s era. Although the challengers won 11-9, the occasion was a total victory for Newport Polo and its fans.
Two teams faced off from a stable pool of athletes from the Newport Polo Club that are training under the current Adult Sports guidelines, wearing masks and adapting no-contact rules of polo including eliminating the defensive ride off, and replacing throw-ins at centerfield with knock-ins from the back line after each goal.
Despite a threatening forecast of a thundershower near the start of the match, the program stayed the course with an official coin toss by Gallo Thomas Insurance President & CEO Tom Disanto. A brief drizzle during the opening chukker did not interfere with the progress of play, and ended by the time the second period began, despite radar indicating heavy rain overhead and in surrounding areas from a solid band of weather that crossed the state, leaving a rainbow over the field in its wake.
Since 1952 Gallo|Thomas has been protecting the businesses, homes and families of New England, providing cost-effective solutions backed by personal relationships with its clients that extend beyond the office and into the field during a crisis. Visit Gallo Thomas.
Newport Polo's unique spectator experience involves Tailgating in a system of assigned seating at its exhibition venue that it developed several years ago on its proprietary website & box office, which provides online reservations for parking spaces around the polo field from which to observe the polo match. Those parking spaces are now separated by safe social distancing to a limited capacity that is a fraction of its regular audience, to comply with COVID-19 safety measures that have been approved for beaches, parks and drive-in movies. The venue also has an outdoor seating Pavilion that has been revised to comply with the State’s guidelines for outdoor dining.
On the eve of Opening Day, Newport Polo also hosted the Portsmouth High School Class of 2020 Graduation, which similarly was a rewarding experience that had been painstakingly choreographed and had everyone's cooperation in observing safety measures to go off without a hitch.
The Polo Series is scheduled to continue for the next 16 weeks, every Saturday in June through September. The schedule of teams is subject to change, as per State mandates in effect at the time, on international travel and Adult Sports.
Tickets are available online only at nptpolo.com for reserved Pavilion tables, and reserved Tailgates and Chalets (tailgates with a chalet tent), and accompanying adult Lawn Admission. Unassigned Lawn tickets are currently unavailable. Tickets will not be sold at the entry gates to the Polo Grounds.
Additional details and COVID-19 safety measures in effect can be found on the description page of each event at nptpolo.com including self-screening, wearing masks, maintaining 6’ social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing in restrooms. Policies will be updated as the State of Rhode Island releases new regulations.
The polo grounds are located at historic Glen Farm, 250 Linden Lane, Portsmouth RI. Tickets to the polo match and any associated events are available online at www.nptpolo.com. Stay current with the 2020 team lineup & stats, latest news, events, and more by e-scription to the Gameday Briefing (sign up) and weekly eMagazine (sign up). Both subscriptions are private and spam-free.
The Newport International Polo Series is proud to present its 2020 sponsors including Gallo|Thomas Insurance, Davitt, Boston Common, Hotel Viking, The Chanler, The Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina, Vanderbilt International Properties, Veuve Clicquot, Clarke Cooke House, Stella Artois, ROCKSTAR Limo, Atria Senior Living, Goslings, McGrath Clambakes and Catering, and promotional partners including The Cocktail Guru, Newport Jaguar Tours, Newport Helicopter Tours, America's Cup Charters, International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport Mansions, Island Surf and Sport, Newport Sport Fishing Charters, Providence River Boat Company, and Newport Harbor Guide. Special thanks to Schultz Marketing Partnerships, WCRI Classical Rhode Island. “Our sponsors have been with us since the beginning. Without their support, the Series would not be as extensive as it is,” explains Dan Keating, Polo Series founder.
Polo, Since 600 b.c.
Polo is, without doubt the oldest ball game in the world today. First recorded in the 6th century b.c. when the Turkomans beat the Persians in a diplomatic tournament, the alluring game caught on with equestrian royalty and cavalry, and took off with globalization, withstanding the tests of time. By the time Polo arrived on Newport’s shores during the Gilded Age, the sport was nearly 2500 years steeped in tradition, captivating newcomers like Newport's summer sporting set who embraced the new pastime, establishing America's first polo club in 1876. A charter member of the United States Polo Association, the club today is still a trailblazing model polo club, hosting the Newport International Polo Series public exhibition matches, supporting philanthropic causes, organizing tournaments, polo club member services and polo instruction year-round. Experience the king of games in its American landing at Newport Polo.