The best professional beach volleyball players in the country will compete in Atlantic City this year.
The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) and sports marketing giant IMG will combine with the Atlantic City Alliance to stage the Atlantic City Beach Volleyball Tournament on Sept. 6-8.
"We're very excited," James Leitz, senior vice-president of IMG Worldwide and executive producer of its beach volleyball events, said Thursday in a phone interview.
"The ACA contacted us in hopes of bringing a tournament to Atlantic City to highlight their new beach volleyball facility and to make more people aware that the beaches are open (after Hurricane Sandy). This is a one-year committment for now, but we're hoping we wind up coming to Atlantic City for many years."
The tournament will be held on the beach volleyball courts at New Jersey Avenue and the Boardwalk between Showboat Casino Hotel and Revel. Eight of the 11 courts have been completed on what used to be a vacant one-acre lot.
They are being built as part of a joint effort by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the Atlantic City Alliance. The alliance is a marketing coalition that promotes tourism in the city
New Jersey beaches have hosted AVP events for many years. Hall of Famers Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos dominated events in Wildwood in the early-to-mid 1980s. The tour moved to Belmar, where it held events there in 18 of the last 23 years, including last summer, before it temporarily folded due to a lack of funds.
Under new AVP owner Donald Sun, the tour has scheduled seven events for this season. IMG is producing the Atlantic City tournament and the prestigious Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Open on Aug. 23-25. In beach volleyball circles, the Manhattan Beach tournament is the Super Bowl of the sport.
"The AVP was looking for a place (to hold a tournament) and we got them," ACA senior strategy officer Jeff Guaracino said Thursday in a phone interview. "It was a win, win for both of us."
Guaracino declined to provide further details, citing a news conference scheduled for June 27.
All of the top players are expected to compete in Atlantic City, including two-time beach volleyball Olympian Phil Dalhausser and new playing partner Sean Rosenthal. They were among several players who signed exclusive contracts with the AVP earlier this year. The group also included former Olympians Nicole Branagh, Jake Gibb, Jen Kessy, Todd Rogers, April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Watch Phillies on the beach
The ACA, which coined the popular catchphrase "Do AC" as a way of marketing the resort, has also formed a new partnership with the Philadelphia Phillies that will bring an Atlantic City flavor to Citizens Bank Park and vice versa.
Next week, a giant Phanatic sand castle will be on display at the stadium's left-field gate to promote Atlantic City's World Championship of Sand Sculpting that's being held on the Missouri Ave. beach today through June 30. Miss America contestants and reigning Miss America Mallory Hagan will be at the ballpark on Sept. 6.
On Aug. 29, the Phillies, Comcast SportsNet and the ACA will be hosting a "Phillies at the Beach" viewing party at Arkansas Ave. and the beach. A giant mobile movie screen will be brought onto the beach to show the Phillies' game against the New York Mets that day.
Contact David Weinberg:
A.C. Beach Volleyball Tournament
When: Sept. 6-8
Where: Atlantic City beach volleyball courts, New Jersey Avenue and the Boardwalk, between Showboat Casino Hotel and Revel.
Who: Phil Dalhausser, Sean Rosenthal, Todd Rogers and Kerri Walsh Jennings have signed
contracts to play with the AVP this season.