Polo at the Pastime

Precursor of the Roller Garden housed an indoor polo craze in the 1930s.
Members of the “Rocking Chairs” polo team: Tom Kidd, Herb Allen, and Maurice Krier.

These men, dear readers, are Allen’s Rocking Chairs, stars of Minneapolis’s huge indoor polo craze of the 1930s. That giant Roller Garden skating rink on Lake Street was built in 1930 as the Pastime Arena, dedicated to boarding, riding, and training horses. The structure was financed by a consortium of 23 businessmen headed by Frederick B. Wells and including names like Crosby, Pillsbury and Dayton. The manager was Herbert B. Allen, an experienced horseman from Virginia; Allen was also the personal trainer and competition rider of Wells’ horses.  

The arena made it possible to play indoor polo, even in the winters of Minnesota. Teams of three played three “chukkers” (periods of play) per game, with three games played at each event. Teams came from local stables, small towns, and the University of Minnesota, but the team to beat was the Army—three strapping lieutenants from Fort Snelling.  

Although Allen and his teammates were experienced horsemen (Thomas Kidd was a British Army veteran and riding instructor, and Maurice E. Krier was a veteran indoor and outdoor polo star), they were also a little long in the tooth to be playing polo, thus the name Rocking Chairs. Allen’s son remembered stories about the gray-haired Krier, who would “charge into a group of players and close his eyes while taking a swing at the ball.” One article reported that the opposing team “showered polo balls at the goal of the Rocking Chairs so quickly that they forgot to rock and were completely hopelessly behind at the end of the second chukker.”  

The Depression and disinterest did away with polo after a few years, and the arena went on to host ice skating, tennis, and roller skating.

Jeanne Andersen is secretary of the board of the St. Louis Park Historical Society. Learn more about the city’s history at the website here.