Adam Kiefaber reports:
For the first time since 2009, the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) will make a stop at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason over Labor Day weekend.
AVP’s new owner, Donald Sun, and Olympic gold medalist, Todd Rogers, were on hand at the Tennis Center Wednesday to make the announcement.
“Historically, this is where the AVP has always come and it has always been one of the more premier events on the tour,” said Sun, who purchased the league for roughly $2 million in the spring of 2012. “We want to carry on that legacy.”
Sun, who worked for the past 14 years at his father’s successful technology company, Kingston Technology in Fountain Valley, Calif., grew up watching the AVP tour and is attempting to revive the professional beach volleyball circuit after it went bankrupt and canceled five events of its 12-city tour, including Cincinnati, in 2010.
Last year, in its first tour since 2010, the AVP had only two stops – one at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine and the other in Rogers’ hometown of Santa Barbara, Calif. Historically, the first AVP event in Mason was held on July 4th weekend in 2005. It then moved to Labor Day weekend in 2006, where it stayed until 2009.
“We came last year to Cincinnati and it was a great event,” Sun said. “For the resources and the time that we had to put together, to see that many people still come led me believe that there is a definite enthusiasm for beach volleyball here in Greater Cincinnati.”
That enthusiasm was its highest in 2008 when Cincinnati was the first AVP tournament since Rodgers and teammate Phil Dalhausser and the duo of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings earned gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
That year, roughly 40,000 people attended the four-day event. This year, the event is expected to attract between 12,000 and 15,000 people and bring in $300,000 of revenue, which is generated from ticket sales, corporate hospitality packages and sponsors.
With the exception of May-Treanor, many of AVP’s top players are expected to compete in this year’s Cincinnati Open, including Rodgers, Dalhauser, Walsh Jennings; Olympic silver medalists Jen Kessy and April Ross; and Olympians Nicole Branagh, Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal.
Despite some of the same names, the pairings have changed. Rodgers, who won the 2008 gold medal with Dalhauser, is now teamed up with former minor league pitcher Ryan Doherty, who is 7-foot-1. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-9 Dalhauser is now paired with Rosenthal and the 6-foot-3 Walsh Jennings, who has won three gold medals, hasn’t announced her new teammate.
Rogers, who is considered one of AVP’s top players, said that the Lindner Family Center has the best amenities for a volleyball tournament out of any location in the country.
“I am from Santa Barbara and I love that event because all my family and friends are there, but amenity-wise, domestically-speaking, this is by-far-and-away the best place to play,” Rodgers said.
The tournament will be played at the Tennis Center’s “Court 3″ under the name for the volleyball event, “Stadium Court”. It holds roughly 4,000 people. If the event can grow back into its former popularity, Rogers hopes that they will be playing at the venue’s “Center Court”, which seats 11,435 spectators.
“Being in the big stadium would probably be the best possible place for us to play, but I think we start in a smaller stadium and hopefully in a few years we will be in the big stadium,” Rogers said. “But, I believe this place will be packed and rockin’ and a lot of fun.”
The Cincinnati Open will be the third stop of what is currently a seven-city tour, which begins Aug. 16-18 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and ends Oct. 19-20 in Huntington Beach, Calif.
The local stop will feature a field of 16-two player men’s teams, as well as 16 two-player women’s teams. In addition, there will be a single-elimination qualifying tournament, Aug. 30, to allow two additional teams per gender play their way into the main draw.
Tickets per session will cost $20 for general admission and $35 for premium seating. Main draw play will begin with a day session (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and a night session (6 to 10 p.m.) Aug. 31. The tournament will continue with a supersession (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) during the day Sept. 1 and conclude with the men’s and women’s finals at 4:15 and 6 p.m. (televised by CBS Sports Network) Sept. 2.
IF YOU GO
Date: Aug. 30-Sept. 2
Address: Off I-71, directly across from Kings Island in Mason
Tickets: Single session tickets range from $20-$35, go on sale June 26