Barrett-Jackson, PIR, Fox Sports pony up for Scottsdale polo event

By Mike Sunnucks

Phoenix Business Journal

Publicist Jason Rose is channeling a “build it and they will come” mantra as he works on the second annual Scottsdale Polo Championships.

And he’s signed on some well-known partners for this year’s event, slated for Oct. 20. That list includes the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Co., Fox Sports Arizona and Phoenix International Raceway.

Rose hopes to forge the championships into one of the top U.S. polo events, and something akin to the Waste Management Open in terms of buzz and excitement. If he succeeds, the event could become another major tourism draw for the Valley.

“Our goal is to be like the 16th hole at the Waste Management Open, except with polo and not golf,” said Rose, referring to the rowdy corporate suites at the Tournament Players’ Club of Scottsdale.

The championships drew 2,500 fans last year, and Rose wants to double that this year with three matches. Rose said the budget for this year is $225,000, with sponsorships starting at $1,500.

Mustangs and ponies

This year’s event will focus on cars as well as polo ponies. It’s called “Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses and Horse-power.”

That appeals to Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson and Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan Sperber.

Jackson sees demographic and marketing parallels between polo and his company’s high-end luxury auto auctions.

“We see polo as a lifestyle, and Barrett-Jackson is about lifestyle,” he said.

Jackson is bringing some luxury cars to show at the event and will entertain some of his business partners and clients.

Jackson sees events such as the polo matches as a way to broaden Barrett-

Jackson’s appeal to younger people rather than the traditional older luxury car buyers who attend the auctions. The company’s next Scottsdale car show is in January.

Nascar and polo?

The fit is less obvious between polo, traditionally an upper-class sport, and Nascar, generally a working-class pastime. But PIR’s Sperber sees the event as another way for Nascar to expand its fan base.

This fall, the Avondale track will host its second Nascar race of the 2012 season — part of Nascar’s championship stretch. Sperber said the polo event offers good marketing timing for the Nov. 11 race and allows PIR executives to entertain some sponsors and clients there.

$75K from Scottsdale

Some car dealerships and luxury auto clubs also are among the Scottsdale event’s sponsors, Rose said.

The three-match event will be played Oct. 20 at WestWorld in North Scottsdale. Rose is bringing some top polo players.

Southern California, the Hamptons in New York and Palm Beach, Fla., are the top polo-playing markets in the U.S.

The city of Scottsdale is putting $75,000 toward the event, said spokesman Kelly Corsette. He said that money is coming from city hotel bed tax revenue.

Fox Sports Arizona also has signed on to support the Polo Championships. FSAZ General Manager Brian Hogan said the News Corp.-owned regional network will air a 30-minute program in December.


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September 2012