Polo property lease situation still in limbo


By Kathy Day

While city officials still haven’t decided when to request bids for a new lease on the 80 acres that’s home to the San Diego Polo Club, life goes on for the club and the organizers of the Surf Cup soccer tournament.

The land, which the city acquired as part of the development of Fairbanks Ranch, has been used by the polo club since 1986 for its matches and offices. City officials decided late last year to request new proposals for the lease, even though club officials proposed their own rent increase in exchange for a new lease.

Noting that the club has not seen anything from the city, club president Ron Bonaguidi said, “For now, it’s business as usual. … We pay rent and keep moving forward.”

The club pays $9,842 a month to the city and subleases the property to raise money to help support and maintain the property. One of the groups with a sublease is the Surf Cup soccer tournament, which is gearing up for the 2012 competition that will draw about 7,500 participants.

The club also subleases the site for lacrosse tournaments and corporate and charitable events.

Last week Alex Roth, spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, said it will likely be “this summer” when the request for proposals is issued.

“We’re not saying anything definitive at this point,” he added.

When asked about the situation in March after the polo club’s lease expired, Roth said the city would “evaluate all the bids that come in from the standpoint of what’s best for the city in terms of economically, (and) the way it would fit into the community. We are looking to have a tenant in there that uses that facility in some way related to recreation.”

How the property is used is also a concern for the San Dieguito River Park JPA officials and Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley, an environmental group.

Susan Carter, the JPA’s deputy director, said Monday they haven’t heard anything more on where the city is on seeking new bids, noting that they check in regularly for updates.

“We want to make sure that the uses the city envisions are what is in the (request for proposals) and makes it clear what the constraints (on the property) are,” she added.

The club launched the 2012 season with an open house on June 2 and on June 24 hosted the Senetable Cup Finals, an event that supports Prince Harry’s and Prince William’s charity to support orphans and children in Lesotho. On July 1, the club will host the Pan-American Cup Finals; the season wraps up on Sept. 30.

“We hope we’ll be here another 25 years,” Bonaguidi said, noting that members are currently making the rounds of local community groups to keep them informed about where they stand with regards to their future plans.

They’re also taking a break in their schedule the weekends of July 28-30 and Aug. 4-6 so the Surf Cup tournament can have full access to the fields.

“Kids come from all over for this event,” Bonaguidi said. “They have a great time.”