UPDATE: New Times was kicked out of a press conference at the International Polo Club today. More details after the jump.
Will criminal charges accusing him of causing a fatal, drunken car accident keep Wellington polo mogul John Goodman off the playing field this year?
The new season at the International Polo Club in Wellington starts January 2, and Goodman, the club's founder, is conspicuously absent from the roster of teams listed on the club's website.
Laurie Zuckerman, a PR consultant for the club, declined to solve the mystery. She said formal announcements about the polo season will be made at a news conference, adding that things change "constantly" until the season starts.
When New Times arrived for the press conference today, the club was swarming with
visitors-- photographers, women in high heels and glossed hair, a handful of tanned polo players, wearing jeans and attempting to look casual. The crowd filed past the grand entrance, where two stone alligators spouted water from their mouths, and a poolside patio, until they reached the terrace restaurant where a swanky lunch would accompany announcements about the new season.
At the check-in table, Shamin Abas, whose firm handles public relations for the club, emerged from the crowd and politely asked a New Times reporter to leave. She said the paper was not welcome at the club.
She declined to comment on whether Goodman would play this season. But she did provide a packet of press info that appears to eliminate the polo mogul from this year's festivities.
Neither he nor his team, Wanderers/Isla Carroll, are listed on the roster for the season. Since he's a patron -- a team owner-- it's highly unlikely he would play for another team.
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Multimillionaire Goodman is accused of drunkenly crashing his Bentley into a Hyundai driven by 23-year-old Scott Wilson last February in Wellington. Wilson's car flipped over into a drainage ditch, where he drowned before rescuers reached him. Goodman has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, and failure to render aid. He's free on bond while awaiting trial.
There's been much speculation about Goodman's future in polo, because he's credited with reviving the sport in Wellington, bringing international attention and celebrities to the town in western Palm Beach County.
Wanderers/Isla Carroll has disappeared from the polo club's website. Some of Goodman's former teammates, such as Kris Kampsen and Sugar Erskine, are now listed as playing for other teams.
Also absent from this season's roster is Nacho Figueras, the Ralph Lauren model and polo star who last year played for the Black Watch team in Wellington.