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Polo season kicks off in Oak Brook

Douglas Giebel and Jack Murphy head back out for the second half of a 2012 polo match at the Oak Brook Polo Grounds. | Doings file photo
Chris Vangle (white) puts a shot on goal past Douglas Giebel (red) during a 2012 match at the Oak Brook Polo Grounds. The 2013 season begins July 19. | Doings file photo
Ken Benjamin of Westmont tries to capture some of the action during a 2012 polo match at the Oak Brook Polo Grounds. | Doings file photo

OAK BROOK, Ill. — Tradition returns to Oak Brook again when the 2013 polo season opens at 3:30 p.m. July 19 in what is being billed as a special introductory match.

The remainder of the season continues with five Sundays of two matches each at the Sports Core polo fields, 700 Oak Brook Road.

The Sunday summer schedule begins with four dates, following an absence since 2008. The history of the sport in the village goes back to 1922 and includes the 1986 Prince of Wales Cup in which Prince Charles played.

Assistant Village Manager Blaine Wing has headed the coordination of the 2013 season and is part of a 12-member Polo Committee.

“This very much is about restoring polo in Oak Brook,” Wing said. “The village sees polo as one of our signatures; it’s part of our culture. It brings back a tradition here, but we also want to focus on some newness.”

The newness to which Wing referred is an area at each match in which various cars will be displayed and themes for each of the five Sundays of polo.

July 28 is Family Day with face painting and balloon artists on hand; Aug. 18 is Classic Car Day; Sept. 15 is United Kingdom Day; and Sept. 22 features a United States vs. Argentina match. Aug. 25 remains open and could be Chicago Blackhawks Day.

“The matches here are a great opportunity for people who have never seen polo to come out and experience it,” Wing said, adding he was impressed with the athleticism of both the players and horses when he watched his first match a year ago.

Both the players and polo horses, which are bred for the sport, come to Oak Brook from around the Midwest.

A variety of ticket options are available for purchase, from general admission to a VIP area. Fans will be on the west side of the field, which can accommodate about 2,500 people during matches.

Wing said Sunday matches attract 500 to 1,200 people. The largest attendance for 2012 was 1,400 when the team from Argentina was in town.

Anticipated expenses for the 2013 season are about $130,000, of which about $95,000 already is covered through sponsors and ticket sales.

“The village’s contribution this year probably will be about $25,000,” Wing said. “That amount was $60,000 in 2007 and 2008. Ideally, we’d like to break even, and we’ll continue to work with sponsors and ticket sales.”

More information and ticket purchases are available online.

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