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Scottsdale event marks rise of polo in Arizona

The sport of polo has found a following in Arizona and even the event organizers for the Scottsdale Polo Party were surprised by the sizable crowd at Saturday’s event.

While this year’s event was only the second ever held, attendance figures climbed from just 2,300 last year to over 9,100 this year. To put that in perspective, the single attendance record for a polo event in the U.S is 9,500 people — and that event took place over two days.

This year’s polo matches featured two of the top players in the sport, Nic Roldan and Tommy Biddle, playing in the premier match, the Hamptons vs. the Bel Air Polo Club. Their high-profile standing in the polo world not only has the ability to draw crowds, it lends added credibility to the event.

But there’s more than polo to this party. VIP tents, filled to capacity, lined the south side of the field and a special tailgaters section on the north side gave fans an up-close view of the action.

The crowd was dressed to the nines: women decked out in stylish big hats and frilly dresses mingled with men donning fedoras and linen jackets, Kentucky Derby style. When the Arabian horses from the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show pranced onto the field in between matches, fans swarmed the field to pet and snap photos of the costumed horses and their riders.

There were lots of exotic cars, provided by sponsors Barrett Jackson, Scottsdale Ferrari, Lotus & Fisker, and local car clubs like Lamborghini, Jaguar, Ferrari and Corvette.

There were fashion shows and party tents pumping dance music. You could get a manicure, smoke a fine cigar or sip champagne. In fact, the event this year was boosted in large part by a generous list of local sponsors, including the city of Scottsdale who awarded a $75,000 grant to support the show and help establish it as a premier tourist attraction for the city.

The Scottsdale Polo Party was originally conceived by Jason Rose, of Rose Moser Allyn, a public relations firm, as a way to attract support and interest for the Arizona Polo Club, a client of the firm.

“This has definitely sparked new interest for the polo club and given it new life,” said Natalie Grancharov, from the Arizona Polo Club. “Even though we’ve been here for 30 years, not many people were aware of us before the Polo Par ty started. Our goal is to grow the sport here in Arizona.This is one of the best places in the country to play polo so we’re excited about all the attention this brings to the sport and to the program here.”