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Bicycle Polo Tentatively Banned from Portland Parks, Alcohol Cited as Main Reason

There has been much confusion on the issue of Bicycle Polo in Portland Parks as of late. Many people do not seem to understand what is going on and are, understandably, jumping to conclusions. This article will hopefully shed light on the factors surrounding the issue and lead everyone to a better understanding of what's going on.
I just had a long phone interview with Mark Cline, Park Ranger Supervisor at Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) regarding this issue. This is the gist of what he said:

For over a year, PP&R has been dealing with a group of individuals who wish to participate in a new sport called "Bicycle Polo" (BP). One of the first issues they had was finding a place to play that was both safe for the participants and durable enough to be resistant to the wear and tear caused by the sport. A compromise was reached, and two areas were generally agreed upon as being OK for BP: The ex-tennis court at Alberta Park and the hand-ball court at Colonel Summers park over on SE Taylor.
The other major issue that PP&R has had with participants of BP has been alcohol consumption. The law prohibits the use of alcohol in Portland parks without a permit, and park rangers are obliged to eject individuals from the park when they are observed in violation of this rule. In the case of large groups of people, the group as a whole is asked to leave if it is not readily apparent which individuals are consuming the alcohol.
The normal procedure in regards to this rule is to give individuals a warning the first time, and a 30 day exclusion the second time. Mr. Cline says that he is "almost positive" that no BP players have been given a 30-day exclusion despite numerous repeat offenses. He implied that he had in the past instructed rangers to avoid giving out exclusions to BP players as a matter of diplomacy. He also said that he will poll the rangers and have an exact number back to me by Saturday afternoon.
Mr. Cline went on to say that although he and another PP&R representative, Gretchen Newberry (apparently the person in charge of permits) have been in communication "off and on" with a certain individual regarding the alcohol consumption at BP events, that that person has stated that they are unable to control the actions of other players. Mark says that the alcohol situation with the BPers has gotten progressively worse, and that he finally has instructed the rangers to temporarily ban the BPers from playing until players can agree to meet with PP&R officials and agree to "internally police" the events to ensure that alcohol violations do not occur. He says that this was a calculated move to force the BPers to meet with PP&R officials to discuss and solve the issue of unpermitted alcohol consumption at Portland parks, and that until this dialogue takes place BP will not be allowed at Portland Parks, regardless of whether or not alcohol is present.

Thanks for the update... 03.Aug.2004 16:18

bicyclist and drinker

Well, it's a lot more clear what's going on now... and what seems to be called for is some internal policing. I really can't see anything unreasonable about the park department's position here, especially since they've been letting people slide over and over on alcohol violations...

Isn't there a pub nearby that BPers could drink at between rounds, to make everyone happy? :)

looks like one side of the story 03.Aug.2004 16:21


OK, some very useful info from clamydia, especially since Mr. Cline hasn't returned my VM. It would appear that the entire article is Mr. Cline's claims about the situation. While I wasn't present the day of the Big Incident, others who were there have said that there was not alcohol consumption at that event and that alcohol was not cited but rather that they were "playing bike polo" as the reason for the exclusion.

It would be really nice if more people who have been present at recent BP events posted. There have been posts from only a few people, and most of those did not appear to have first-hand experience with the recent exclusion.

The issue can be followed at these links, and in the next issue of the Portland Mercury.




bet they're drinking PBR 03.Aug.2004 16:24


i read an article in the new york times last year about how PBR silently sponsors events, and they listed Portland bike polo events as an example. some dude will show up with a case of PBR, no signs, no advertisement, and hand 'em out. after awhile, PBR becomes ingrained with the subculture. clever marketing, and portland hipsters radicals and wanna-bes drink that shit up like gravy. suckers.

A Likely Story 03.Aug.2004 16:47

BillDozer bill@axlesofevil.org

One thing I will say to reply to Mr. Cline's statements about alcohol in the park: LIES LIES LIES!!!

Polo has had one alcohol related incident in the last year. I was, in fact, called by Ms. Newberry immediately following this incident. She asked me why we were playing polo, not about the alcohol. On each of the last three encounters with Park Rangers, There has been no mention of alcohol, nor has there been any present. We have been told that we were being asked to leave because it was Mr. Cline's instruction. It seems that after the rangers left, they filed a report stating that the reason we were ejected was alcohol-related. This is false. I sincerely hope Mr. Cline is actually willing to sit down and talk, but presently, I find it hard to believe. He has yet to return any of my phone calls or e-mails. He'll apparently tell some story about how he wants to be friends with polo players, and how it's our own fault, to those not involved, but has said nothing to me on the matter. It seems I will have to visit our friends in person to arrange a meeting. Fortunately, I very much feel that the truth is on our side, and so is the community.

Yours truly in this fight,
Axles of Evil

Gross 03.Aug.2004 16:51

Grossed out

PBR? Gross. How does anyone drink that swill? How did drinking really gross beer become hip?

that's probably a ridiculous rumor 03.Aug.2004 16:53


I know several cyclists who are likely to show at a party with a case of PBR and hand out beer to people, but they bought the case because it is cheap enough to buy a lot of it. Maybe the company does do promotions on the sly, but I've never seen someone I thought was a company rep handing out beer.

re: one side of the story 03.Aug.2004 17:28


You are right, this article IS only the PP&R's side of the story, and I should have put that in as a disclaimer... I felt it necessary to print that side of the story because when I read the original article, it didn't really give any reasons for the PP&R's policy of ejecting BPers. I mean, I couldn't believe that the PP&R just arbitrarily decided that they didn't want BP on Portland parks; that just doesn't make any sense...

As far as people there not returning vms or emails, you jsut gotta keep trying back until you get a live person, that's what I did. The numbers go direct to their desks.

i'm not against bike polo at all, but... 03.Aug.2004 17:31


...i can see how folks would get the impression that alcohol and bike polo go hand-in-hand. photos on the Axles of Evil website show people drinking, apparently at the park during games.

i have no doubt that there are bizarre people in the city bureaucracy (or neighbors) who don't like bike polo. they certainly have some issues to work out for themselves, but if players have broken the law about having alcohol in the park, then they're giving these folks the excuse they need. i'm certainly not saying, "never break any laws", or even "don't drink in the park", but if you break a law like that, you need to be prepared for the consequences.

good luck with the fight. i am certainly a pdx resident who supports bike polo in the parks in general.

img 03.Aug.2004 17:55



ridiculous rumor??? 04.Aug.2004 08:26


you have to pay for the full article, but 1 minute spent doing a search on "pabst blue ribbon marketing" (less time then it took for you to post that it was a rumor) on the ny times website produced the following free paragraph from june 22, 2003:

The Marketing of No Marketing

Late Edition - Final , Section 6 , Page 42 , Column 1
DISPLAYING FIRST 50 OF WORDS - ... a recent Saturday evening, about a hundred serious bicyclists, most of them young men, many tattooed and pierced and at least one wearing striped tights and a floral thrift-shop dress, arrived en masse at Alberta Park in northeast Portland, Ore. They gathered near a fenced-off hard-top court and, in...

Let's pay some closer attention 04.Aug.2004 08:50

BillDozer bill@axlesofevil.org

I'd like you re-read that "marketing of no marketing" article. The polo tournament it discusses was the "West Side Invite" Every year, the Portland Messenger community hosts a weekend-long, PERMITTED race, polo tournament, and accompanying contests. The Axles of Evil, and PUMA have always made sure to acquire the appropriate permits anytime more than a handful of picker-uppers are going to play. It is in our interest to cooperate with PP&R on this issue. The photos are also from tournaments, if you'll pay attention to the crowds in the background. On that instance, Memorial Day weekend, 2003, Pabst Blue Ribbon had sponsored the West Side Invite EVENT, just as Stumptown Coffee, REload bags, and Diesel Fuel Prints did this year. And never, NEVER has any representative from Pabst showed up and handed out beer, even during a permitted event.

While I'll not say that we don't like beer, we HAVE made the concession to PP&R and have begun self policing, and keep the alcohol from being any sort of problem. I would also like to reiterate that there have been no written warnings, no tickets, and no exclusions. The only source of info Cline has is reports that are filed after the fact, and I contend that if there are more than one, they are fraudulent. Maybe it's just me, but this places us in an "our word versus their word" situation. Of course the average middle class portlander is going to take the bureau's story over that of some scruffy kids. We've stuck by our side of the bargain ever since the meeting I had with PP&R this spring. The fact that they decided to go back on their word because of rumour, presumption, or misleading information only shows that there was something amiss from the get-go.

I'll say I'm slightly disheartened that people seem so quick to jump to support PP&R when they use the, "It's their own fault, they did it to themselves." what's next? "they fell down some stairs."?


It is chickenshit 04.Aug.2004 14:09


What a chickenshit way to call a meeting; dispatch some flunkies out to harrass a sanctioned event to close it down in order to force a meeting? If there were actually any citations, exclusions, or complaints then I might understand closing the games down until conditions were met but this is chickenshit behavior.

Why did this chickenshit not simply come out to a match himself to observe or to have a sit-down with organizers? The answer my friends is in the question itself. It is the way of the one armed para-palegic to flex his one arm; it's all he can do.

My appologies to one-armed parapalegics and chickenshit everywhere for the unfavorable comparison with this looser; it certainly was unfair.

Willie Week Article 8/4/04 04.Aug.2004 14:42

Dave Fitzpatrick

Willie Week just came out with the following article regarding Bicycle Polo:

Parks officials cap boozy tradition
by Dave Fitzpatrick --  dfitzpatrick@wweek.com

It is tradition. Every Sunday for the past two years, a loose-knit gaggle of bike messengers and punk rockers have ridden their two-wheeled steeds onto an abandoned Alberta Park tennis court where, armed with ski poles and scraps of lumber, they engage in furious five-point games of bike polo.

Then, on July 25, the "Axles of Evil," as they were called, got the boot, an expulsion delivered by a Portland Parks employee who said he was acting on orders of Supervisor Mark Cline.

It wasn't the first time they'd had run-ins with park patrollers. Another of their traditions was pausing any game that reached a 4-4 tie and hoisting a cold one before moving on to game point, violating park rules that bar spontaneous boozing.

"These folks have repeatedly brought alcohol into th eparks," says Sara Bott, a spokeswoman for Portland Parks. "We won't continue to look the other way."

Except that, on that sunday, everyone agrees the wire-spoked warriors had left the beer at home.

The fact that they weren't drinking doesn't matter, says Cline: "We'd had enough as a bureau."

Cyclist Bill "BillDozer" Dillon, 27, admits the fun-loving bunch have mixed suds and sport in the past.

"Playing polo without alcohol hurts so much," he explains. And, he says, park staffers had let players drink under an unspoken "out of sight, out of mind" policy.

Those days are over, say parks officials, though they concede that should the group apply for an alcohol permit, they'd probably allow drinking - as long as it didn't occur during play.

So will the Axles of Evil alter their tradition and reserve libations for after the game?

"We're willing to make that concession," says Dillon, "even though it sucks so much."

cant stay away! 08.Aug.2004 01:48


Im gonna come out and not drink and just play polo. I think we should be able to play.

They play all over the counrty and we are being shut down. Portland defines world class hard-top polo. We are very talented sports ladies and men.

Seattle sends its love too, they are practicing twice a week now!
polo in Tuscon
polo in Tuscon
From where hard court polo began...
From where hard court polo began...

Wha happen? 11.Aug.2004 19:01

secret squirrel for president

So what's going on? Anything new happen this week??

Wha happen? 11.Aug.2004 19:03

secret squirrel for president

So what happened? Anything new this week?

sponsored?! 22.Nov.2004 12:38

Red Army

lol that somebody is ussally me or any number of people. PBR is so cheap it doesn't hurt to buy.
and i think pabst tastes great!