The Indio City Council presented Alex Haagen III, owner of the Empire Polo Club, a key to the city on Wednesday for his “outstanding civic contributions” to Indio.
As owner of the Empire Polo Club — one of the Coachella Valley’s largest special events facilities that hosts world-renowned polo players — Haagen has become a significant part of the city’s cultural DNA.
“It has been an honor and our pleasure to get to know you in our city,” Indio Mayor Elaine Holmes said Wednesday. “There are so many ways that you have contributed to our city that I wouldn’t be able to list them all.”
Though the polo club is perhaps most known as the grounds for Goldenvoice’s Coachella and Stagecoach music fests, it’s also home to several charitable and community events.
The club serves as the home for Healing Horses, a nonprofit corporation that uses horse therapy to improve the lives of special needs children, particularly those diagnosed with autism.
Most recently, the Coachella Valley Symphony performed a free Latin music concert to nearly 900 people at the Empire Polo Club in October.
It’s these things that Haagen has done for the community that makes his work so important, according to Holmes.
Though he splits his time between Indio and Los Angeles, Haagen said in a short remark Wednesday that “it’s been a privilege to grow in Indio.”
Haagen first came to Indio in 1983. At first, he played polo at the Eldorado Polo Club on Madison Street, though eventually his hunger to do something unique in the city led him to create his own polo club in 1987.
And he’s still hungry to do more.
“It never ends. There’s a lot of good things that we could do,” he said.