- March 17, 2017
LAKEWOOD RANCH — Developer David Meunier's dreams for the Sarasota Polo Club were big. He didn't realize the project to reach those dreams would be just as big.
Meunier recently announced he has decided to opt out of the deal he had struck with Manatee County-based Schroeder-Manatee Ranch to buy the Sarasota Polo Club. A 90-day due diligence phase expired last week and Meunier asked for an extension as he struggled to make up his mind.
"In the end, the task was much bigger than I anticipated," Meunier told the East County Observer, sister paper of the Business Observer. "I asked for 100 days (in the due diligence phase) because I wanted to find other scenarios where I could make this work. But I didn't want to hold up SMR with the polo season coming up."
Meunier, who lives in Coral Gables, says a study of the complex's seven main polo fields — the venue has nine overall — showed it would take more than $1 million to get all the fields into (world class) playing condition. He brought in Alejandro Battro of the Battro Polo Fields in Argentina to do the field study.
He said the money wasn't the issue, though, but the time involved was problematic. He wanted to dive into the project immediately and he says to get the fields the way he wanted, it would take more than a year where they would be closed for use.
Meunier, 51, is a former professional racecar driver known for rehabilitating run-down properties in the Miami area and turning apartments into condominiums. Past the money and time, he also says he faced substantial red tape to build another pavilion on the property and to add other buildings to reach his goal of making it a multi-sport facility that could host dressage and jumping as well as polo.
"Sometimes it is better not to do a good deal than to possible agree to a bad one," he says. "This is just something I don't feel capable of taking on."