City Building Marquee Attractions At Record Pace As It Looks To Overhaul Image
Over the past couple of years, Tianjin officials have sought to change their city’s image from Beijing’s sootier, less advanced cousin to that of a modern city, pumping money into marquee projects like the largest cruise line port in Asia and the largest arts academy in China while welcoming multinational chains to build new high-rises and high-end malls in the hopes of attracting more business travelers and domestic tourists. This weekend, Tianjin added yet another jewel to its aspirational crown, unveiling the most predictable venue a newly monied city would feel it needs: a polo club, “China’s largest,” at that.
Though China boasts only a minuscule number of polo enthusiasts, much like golf, some of China’s elite perceive polo as a mark of sophistication. As such — and, again, like with golf — we’ve seen this interest spreading beyond the country’s nouveau riche to their children, with a Beijing polo club offering $14,000 polo lessons for the offspring of the city’s upper crust. (For reference, that’s over four times China’s nominal per capita income as of 2009.)
Developed by Hong Kong-listed developer Goldin Properties Holdings Limited, the members-only sporting venue boasts two full-sized international standard polo fields, associated training facilities, auxiliary polo sports facilities, 150 stables , a theme park and a club hotel – Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Hotel.
“Tianjin has been one of the top 5 cities with the highest Gross Regional Product [GRP] in China over the past few years and is evolving its position from a traditional port city to one that is more diverse with plentiful investment opportunities,” said Mr. Pan Sutong, Chairman of Goldin Properties Holdings Limited.
“As such, we see the opportunity to introduce a new and exclusive type of luxury to the region. By bringing in polo, a sport that is becoming increasingly popular amongst royal families and the affluent around the world, Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club and Hotel will add to Tianjin’s status as a landmark destination and contribute to its overall city status.”
As CNNGo adds, memberships to the Goldin Metropolitan start at 200,000 yuan (around US$30,000) for what it calls “social members” to 10 million yuan (about US$1.5 million) for owners of polo teams.