An historic three-year partnership was announced last week by Mark Bellissimo, CEO of the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC); Robert Puetz, CEO of the United States Polo Association (USPA); and David Cummings, chairman of USPA Global Licensing (USPAGL). The agreement between the three organizations aims to build and cultivate the sport of polo on a national and international level.
The partnership will provide the USPA and USPAGL a home for its top competitions throughout the year, with the USPA becoming a major commercial sponsor of the IPC venue and the title sponsor for the facility’s primary and most notable competition field, Field 1.
“We are honored to partner with the USPA and USPA Global Licensing to continue to grow the sport of polo with the goal of transforming it from a sport, long considered a hobby, to a more professional sport for team owners,” Bellissimo said. “It will take time and cooperation from all parties, but I believe over time we can get there.”
The recent decision by the USPA, supported by IPC, to lower the premier high-goal tournament level from 26 goals to 22 goals, set the stage for the agreement, which was negotiated over the last few weeks and whose deal terms were approved by the USPA’s Executive Committee on Wednesday, March 28.
“The USPA is committed to growing the sport of polo, and we believe that adjusting the handicap level and creating a world-class polo series will encourage players from all over the world to compete in the Triple Crown of Polo,” Puetz said. “With this historical achievement, we are certain that the prize money, new opportunities for American players, and a new home for the USPA and U.S. Polo Assn. at one of the premier polo facilities in the world, will ensure a promising future for U.S. polo.”
Bellissimo believes that the changes will significantly grow the sport of polo.
“We are confident that this strategy will yield significantly more teams and a far better and more competitive tournament season for the team owners, players, spectators and sponsors, as well as provide a platform for the future growth of polo,” he said. “We will continue to invest in and expand the number of high-quality fields, work with the USPA to ensure the highest quality officiating, and promote the IPC Polo School, as well as, promote the sport locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Our goal is to deliver a better experience and value for all our constituents.”
Cummings, chairman of USPA Global Licensing Inc., the sports marketing arm of the USPA domestically and internationally, said that the partnership is long overdue.
“Our involvement gives USPAGL and U.S. Polo Assn., the official licensed brand of the USPA, a year-long platform to reinforce the authenticity and connection to the sport of polo,” he said.
All parties were confident that this partnership platform and series format will provide an increased number of competitive teams, enhanced spectator interest, greater opportunities for American players and lower the cost of fielding a team for team owners.
The Triple Crown of Polo events will include an innovative “Winner Takes All” prize money format during the tournaments. The C.V. Whitney Cup will offer $125,000; the USPA Gold Cup will offer $125,000; and will culminate with the U.S. Open Polo Championship, which will offer $250,000. An added bonus, with details forthcoming, will provide the team winning the Triple Crown of Polo up to an additional $500,000 bonus, which would yield a total of $1 million in the total prize money package.
Bellissimo also noted that IPC would be adding at least three, and up to five new fields, an expanded polo school intended to attract IPC club members, a permanent stick-and-ball simulator, and the addition of an improved and enhanced tournament schedule that will feature Gladiator Polo.
To learn more about the International Polo Club Palm Beach, visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.