So, Baton Rouge polo players, we have ourselves a predicament.
Saturday evening we met to play polo in the garage behind the Clerk of Court Building at 222 St. Louis St in downtown Baton Rouge. We played from about 6PM until 9:30PM with no problems. People were parking in the area closer to the stairs and the entrance ramp for the Monster Truck Jam that was in the River Center Arena, but they stayed out of our way, and we out of theirs. After such a great experience, we were feeling rather excited that we had apparently found a covered place to play polo for when it rains!!
We went back on Sunday afternoon and a BRPD officer was sitting in his car in the garage. We set up and started to roll around and he drove over and told us we had to leave. I asked him if the garage was public property. He said "well it is, but it isn't. If the mayor happens to come down here on a Sunday and sees you guys playing down here, its on me" Me: "what if I get permission from the Mayor?" him: "If you get permission from the mayor you guys can play all you want." So we left, armed with information. (more on that later)
We rode down to 6th and State Capitol Dr on the edge of Spanish Town and played on the lower level of the old Insurance Building parking garage for about 4 hours. After several games, I got a flat tire and went to get my van. I pulled my van down into the garage and we played for a short while more. As it started to get dark, we decided to move to the top level and play in the light for what little time was left. As I was pulling the van out of the garage, a capitol cop pulled me over. He said we weren't allowed to be in the garage because it was state property... which confused me. Anyway, I told him I was a member of BRASS (Baton Rouge Advocates for Safe Streets) and go to council meetings and went to the mayor's listening meetings, and that we were just playing polo, not spray painting or defacing public property. He said we could finish our games for the day and then head out. He also took my information to give to the Sgt of the D.P.S. bike patrol unit.
So we were playing on the roof of this garage and Don Coppola pulled up. At first I thought it was just another BRPD cop coming to hassle us. He is a BRPD bicycle cop. He watched us play and said that polo looked like it would be really beneficial for his guys to play in order for them to develop extremely useful bicycle handling skills.
So, what did we learn? If it is raining, we will try to play in both spots. I am going to post a letter to the mayor on this blog later for you to copy and paste and email to the mayor's office. He needs to know that this is a worldwide sport, it is not anymore dangerous than riding on a velodrome with no brakes or riding/skating on a public skatepark. So, I will be emailing this letter to the mayor probably every day and encourage you to do the same. He needs to know that this is in demand, and unless he wants to build a covered roller hockey rink for us to play on, he needs to let us play in a parking garage. The only liability would be if the garage fell apart and crushed us to death....