The big three of Goldenvoice (from left to right) Skip Paige, Bill Fold and Paul Tollett.
Festival co-founder seals deal on polo club
By Bruce Fessier
The Desert Sun
INDIO — After more than a year of wrangling, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival co-founder Paul Tollett has secured the additional land necessary to ensure the comfortable growth of the nation’s leading music festival.
Tollett’s company, Coachella Holdco, LLC, cleared an almost four-month escrow three weeks ago for the purchase of 280 acres around the primary site of the annual Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in April. The price was more than $30 million.
The purchase includes the 200-acre Eldorado Polo Club, adjacent to the Empire Polo Club, and seven parcels comprising 80 acres owned by four companies or individuals, including one property owned by Glen Holden, ambassador to Jamaica from1989 to1993. Previously, Tollett’s Goldenvoice company had leased Eldorado land primarily for parking.
The completion of the escrow, made complex by the multiple ownership of Eldorado and its owners’ insistence that the property remain used for polo, was announced Wednesday on Facebook by Eldorado General Manager Jan Hart.
She posted that “Goldenvoice is in the process of restoring this property to its former glory.”
Tollett is president of Goldenvoice, a company under the umbrella of the nation’s second largest concert promotion company, AEG Live, owned by entrepreneur Philip Anschutz. Tollett and AEG Live are partners in Coachella with Tollett having creative control. Tollett was the only signator for Coachella Holdco.
Tollett said he didn’t make the announcement because plans for the purchase were first reported by The Desert Sun last summer and the environmental impact report subsequently underwent public viewing and scrutiny by the Indio City Council, Planning Commission and city staff.
“It’s been so slow for over a year,” he said. “It’s almost like I didn’t know it was news today. It’s been news for over a year.” Eldorado and create additional space for the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, but otherwise make no change in operations. Polo events will continue as they have for more than 30 years at Eldorado. The fields will be turned over to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival one month before the two-weekend event.
Eldorado has a seven year lease to operate polo activities and is negotiating with its new landlord for an 18-year lease.
“The stabling across from the Cantina (restaurant) has been removed and a field is currently being built to use for vendors during the concerts,” Hart said in the Facebook post. “We hope to host some events there as well.”
To llett said it’s too soon to say how the space will be utilized during the festivals. If the Eldorado tenants want to host events there, he said it will probably be for polo-related activities, not concerts.
The landscaping and overall ambiance of the Empire Polo Club, just east of Eldorado, has long been viewed as an integral factor in the success of the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals. Tollett said he would be guided as a new landlord by Alex Haagen III’s stewardship of his Empire Polo Club.
“We’ll work harmoniously with Empire,” he said. “Empire has done an A-plus job at making a nice polo club. Obviously, we’ll be influenced by how they operate.”
Goldenvoice obtained permission from the city of Indio last summer to present two festivals of up to 99,000 people a day, including staff and nonpaying guests, and three festivals with a total capacity of 75,000 per day for up to 18 years.
Tollett has slowly expanded Coachella’s geography since the 2010 festival was hampered by overcrowding. He said last year he had spent money exploring other possible sites to enable its growth. The close of this escrow, he said, provides more space for parking and general uses.
“Some of the land we picked up is off of what we call the Terrace — where the food and beverage was near the Yuma Tent,” he said. “So we got more space there. That will help the show.”
Desert Sun reporter Brett Kelman contributed. .