With just a few days before what is supposed to be its opening match of the season, against a team from Switzerland, there has been no word from Newport Polo whether that match or any other this season will be played.
Governor Gina Raimondo had canceled events that attract large crowds, but Polo has fought back, refusing to cancel while submitting what it has called its “Safety & Social Distancing Plan.” That was done several weeks ago, and up to this writing, there appears to have been no word from the governor.
Update – June 4th: Newport Polo just received the official “go ahead” from the State to reopen this Saturday, according to a notification to ticket holders just now. Newport Polo gets state ok – to open on schedule
We have reached out consistently to Agnes Keating of Newport Polo and she has consistently said that polo is awaiting word from the governor in response to its request. Over the past few days Keating has not responded to our email questions.
Meanwhile, over the last couple of days the governor’s administration has reportedly told the PVD Artisans Market that it could not hold a June 6 event on Providence’s East Side, reinforcing that in this phase of re-opening crowds in excess of 15 are not permitted.
Large events have been canceled uniformly, including the Newport Jazz, Folk and Music Festivals, Rhythm & Roots, the Wickford and Virtu art festivals, and scores of one-time events.
Keating has said that Newport differs because the season runs from June to September, hoping perhaps to salvage at least part of the season. Other season long events have canceled, including the summer season of Theatre by the Sea.
Meanwhile, polo patrons are left wondering. While Keating has outlined polo’s plan, the plan is not precise – or approved. Under the plan, polo tailgating spots would be separated by 10 foot buffers, general admission seating would be eliminated, all patrons (even those at tailgating spots) must buy tickets in advance, and the game would be changed to reduce physical contact, more like “flag football,” according to Keating.
The number of people allowed in tailgating spots would also be limited by social distancing requirements. Keating, when asked for specific numbers, said she was awaiting the governor’s direction.
The most popular matches for polo have been its international series, which this year was to include teams from Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, England, South Africa, Argentina, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Even if the polo season was to be salvaged, it is unlikely that many, if any, of the international teams will arrive. Keating has said matches may be played among Newport Polo members, or possibly with players from other parts of Rhode Island.
We have checked polo’s Facebook page, its website, and other social media sites, but none give any indication that the season will not be played.
On its website, polo has this notification: “The Box Office is suspended pending Gov. Raimondo’s decision on our proposed Safety & Social Distancing Plan.” It is also compiling a waiting list for Tailgate/Chalet/Pavilion sites.