Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Reeves Charity Polo Classic looks to build on inaugural success

PLANT CITY

Organizers started by persuading America's Most Wanted host John Walsh to play in the match and the Golf Channel's Lauren Thompson to serve as host.

Then they took to social networks to tout the event. On Monday and Tuesday, they went a step further by taking horses into television studios to enhance the promotional effort.

They invited more reporters to Plant City's DI Polo Club for a special preview this morning.

The group of young professionals have flexed their marketing muscles in the hopes of making Saturday's Reeves Charity Polo Classic even more successful than last year's inaugural event. It's a tall task given that last year's event drew more than 350 and 45 organizations.

Yet Chris Gannon, a former international polo player who helped craft the idea of a charity match, spoke confidently about surpassing those marks this week.

"Last year, we started planning it three months in advance and we didn't even know if we would break even," said Gannon, 29. "Now we're looking at doubling revenue and decreasing the costs."

The committee's youthful energy certainly helps, and the event's beneficiaries — the Children's Cancer Center, Wheels of Success and Starting Right, Now — bring an added level of support and attention.

However, it's polo's unique combination of exhilarating sport and elegant fashion that make up the core of the classic's expected success. The opportunity to witness galloping horsemen chasing after a ball proves rare in Tampa Bay, and the chance to attend such an event in "appropriate attire" — seersucker suits, sundresses and eye-popping hats like Pippa Middleton's famed fascinator — adds to the charm.

"It's not something we have the opportunity to do in Tampa," said committee member Erin McKinnon. "I can't think of an event where you can wear one of the most stylish hats and compete to have the best-looking hat. We know from Gasparilla that people in Tampa love to dress up for themed parties.

"This is a chance to dress up for a different kind of themed party."

While the classic will focus on the so-called "sport of kings," the event won't miss the opportunity to underscore the posh ambiance.

Title sponsor Reeves Import Motorcars will fill the lot with dazzling high-end cars. Attendees will be greeted with a glass of champagne and a photographer will snap their photo as they arrive on the red carpet.

Before the match, a patient from the Children's Cancer Center will sing the national anthem, fans will witness a dressage exhibition and parachutists will bring in the nation's flag.

At halftime, attendees will participate in the traditional champagne divot stomp.

On top of all of that, there will be a gourmet lunch, complimentary wine and beer, specialty drinks and oyster shooters.

It's almost enough to make you forget about the polo match.

Gannon, however, said that the action often proves irresistible.

"The horses will reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour," Gannon said. "There's going to be people hitting the ball, bumping and hooking. It's going to be fun and fast-paced."

Added McKinnon: "We weren't sure how people would take to polo, but last year they were standing around the field, watching and really enjoying the match."

Times staff writer Ernest Hooper can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Eight passengers who were aboard a Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after one of its engines blew apart filed suit Wednesday against the airline, Boeing and the companies that manufactured the eng...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Tesla sued a former employee Wednesday, accusing the man of hacking the automaker’s computer systems and stealing company secrets, shedding light on what chief Elon Musk had suggested was the work of a secretive internal saboteur.But the employee, Ma...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

LARGO — Vanessa Rodriguez thought she found the right house for her three kids, in the right neighborhood, for the right rent. She signed the lease for April 30, sent a $2,300 money order and planned to move in June 1.Then the delays started. She sai...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

CLEARWATER —The city’s proposed $79.7 million overhaul of the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training facilities depends on getting $40 million in bed taxes from Pinellas County.But records show even if county officials wanted to bankroll the Phillies...
Updated: 6 hours ago