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Owners optimistic even as Saratoga Polo faces foreclosure

Owners optimistic even as Saratoga Polo faces foreclosure

Efforts to develop additional revenue streams have proved insufficient at historic Greenfield facility
Owners optimistic even as Saratoga Polo faces foreclosure
Action during the 2019 season at the Saratoga Polo Association
Photographer: Erica Miller

GREENFIELD — A foreclosure order was signed by a judge earlier this month for the Saratoga Polo Association’s historic polo grounds off Bloomfield Road, but neither the current owner nor its main creditor is saying much about the next move.

Pioneer Bank declined comment and co-owner Jim Rossi said it’s a court matter that he can’t discuss.

However, he remains hopeful about the future.

“Right now we are planning for next season, we are scheduling events, we’re optimistic we can work things out with the banks,” he said.

Attendance was up in 2019, he added, thanks in part to mostly favorable weather on Fridays and Sundays, when polo tournaments are held there. 

“We’re very pleased with the season,” Rossi said.

The problem boils down to revenue from special events and polo being insufficient to support the property. Solutions have been limited by the determination of Rossi and partner Mike Bucci to have polo remain the focus of the property. The 43-acre site just outside Saratoga Springs is potentially lucrative for redevelopment, but having to work around a polo club apparently is a significant stumbling block for developers.

Bucci and Rossi bought the property in 2004 and promptly set about redeveloping it as a retreat with apartments and a conference center, at a price tag that grew from $50 million to $80 million within a few years.

“We saw the polo field as being the core of the property,” Rossi said Thursday. “We challenged ourselves to create a viable business model that had some modest development on site and still preserved the polo field.”

The town granted approval in 2007 but the project never went through.

Other development plans never came to fruition. Nor did attempts by the owners to sell the site.

The property has been in use as a polo club since 1898 with a gap of a few decades in the mid-20th century, and Rossi believes it will endure as such.

“There’s a lot of good will out there ... people want to see it continue.”

Weighing against this is the debt the partners carry. First National Bank of Scotia moved to foreclose in 2016, but the move was averted. The current holder of the mortgage, Pioneer Bank, moved to take the property in March, saying the mortgage was going unpaid. It secured a foreclosure order from state Supreme Court Justice Ann Crowell on Sept. 3.

Neither side would discuss what comes next.

“Obviously there’s not much I can say,” Rossi said.

Pioneer declined comment altogether.

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