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NEWS

CHICAGO POLO ASSOCIATION SHOWS EXPONENTIAL IMPROVEMENT IN SECOND YEAR

Oct 15, 2019 11:18 AM

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After a successful first year, the Chicago Polo Association (CPA) entered its second season with high expectations, goals of further advancing its 2018 polo initiatives and facilitating the creation of new ones. Chicago Polo is a collective, cooperative effort of six USPA Member Clubs, 14 fields and facilities, and two polo schools with a mission of growing and developing the sport of polo in the great Chicagoland area and establishing itself as a regional asset for the Central Circuit. The Association was created to better optimize Chicagoland’s numerous polo activities, including practices, tournaments, exhibition matches, and schools for the area’s more than 150 players.

Oak Brook Polo Open 8-Goal tournament final Horacio Onetto (Oak Brook) vs. Matias Obregon (G-Squared)
Oak Brook's Horacio Onetto and Matias Obregon of G-Squared in the Oak Brook Polo Open 8-Goal tournament final.

In total, approximately 148 unique participants partook in various levels from polo schools all the way up to 12-goal matches at the historic Oak Brook Polo Club in Oak Brook, Illinois, including 25 new student players. This was an over 40% increase from last year’s recorded 108 unique participants. This increase in players also contributed to a large jump in the number of chukkers played. In the first half of the season from June until July, Chicago Polo recorded a 100% increase in chukkers played compared to 2018 and a 34% increase for the second half of the season from August to September."The second season for Chicago Polo has seen continued success from last year,” said Pam Mudra, Chicago Polo Executive Director. “We are continuing to gain momentum and increase participation at all levels of polo.”

In addition to participation and played chukker growth, Chicago Polo achieved and completed the following milestones:

  • 14 USPA Circuit tournaments, including National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS), Women’s, Arena and 8-goal level competitions
  • Newly formed Chicago Polo 8-Goal League that hosted five tournaments featuring four to five teams each and as many as eight to 10 polo professionals
  • Five USPA Arena tournaments
  • Three USPA Women’s tournaments
  • NYTS Regional Qualifier with two levels of youth tournaments
  • USPA Women’s Challenge had two flights totaling 28 players, from as many as nine USPA registered clubs and six different states, a 75% increase from 2018.
  • The NYTS Qualifier had players from 12 USPA registered clubs from seven different states, plus one player from Winnipeg, Canada.
  • Fall 2019 newly formed Chicago Polo Interscholastic Open team
  • The grand finale of the outdoor season was the $50,000 Prize Money Team Up for Tony Benefit Polo Tournament which featured a 6-Goal (six teams) and an 8-Goal (four teams) tournament for a total of 34 players that raised over $50,000 with the USPA Matching Prize money program for Tony Sekera.
Team up for Tony $50,000 prize money donated to Tony Sekera. ©Judith Coleman
$50,000 in prize money was donated to Tony Sekera during the annual Team Up For Tony fundraiser. ©Judith Coleman

A veteran of polo management, Pam Mudra has been working diligently with participating clubs, facilities, patrons and players to organize and promote Chicago Polo events, tournaments and schools to grow the sport in Chicago and the effort has been paying off. “In two short years, the Chicagoland polo community is beginning to hit its stride again,” said Danny O’ Leary, Oak Brook Polo Club’s Managing Director. “This is largely because there is a consensus to build a centralized organization and means of executing polo activities from the ground up and top down so that we achieve growth and sustainability across Chicago Polo’s ecosystem. This is no easy task and Pam keeps everyone in line, accountable and well-informed about the various polo activities and opportunities throughout the season.”

Last year, two metrics that were highlighted to gauge the activity of the CPA and establishing the CPA as a hub for polo in the Midwest were “out of town” participation and engagement of USPA members new to the USPA. Comparing 2019 to 2018, the CPA maintained the 2018 figure of 21% of CPA participants registered with non-Central Circuit USPA Clubs. Diving deeper into those that are registered in the Central Circuit, 25% are registered in non-Chicagoland clubs. These figures support the CPA’s goals as serving as a regional hub for polo both in the Central Circuit and a summer destination for all levels of polo, including players new to the sport and the USPA. Looking at the development of new players, 37% for CPA participants have joined the USPA in the last five years (2015-2019) and 23% have joined in the last three years (2017-2019).

Season Opener 12-Goal Match Oak Brook vs Passion for Polo
Passion for Polo win the season opener 12-goal match against Oak Brook.

Moving into its third year, the Chicago Polo will focus on continuing to build on the momentum established from the launch of the Association and look to develop four key components of their program: (1) starting new players; (2) grow beginner and four chukker polo (3) continue to build upon Chicago Polo’s 8-Goal League with local and out-of-state teams and the birth of a series of 12-Goal tournaments (4) arena polo with the goal of establishing a strong Interscholastic presence and winter arena league.

For more information about Chicago Polo please contact Pam Mudra by email at pam@chicago-polo.com. If you are part of a polo community that would benefit from launching a regional, cooperative association and would like to continue the conversation please contact Director of Club Development, Justin Powers at (330) 692-0062.

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