The country's top professional beach volleyball players will return to Atlantic City this summer.

The Atlantic City Alliance - a marketing coalition that promotes tourism in the city - announced Tuesday that the second annual Do AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational will be held Sept. 5-7 on the state-of-the-art courts between the Revel and Showboat casinos.

"We're very excited to have the tournament back in Atlantic City," alliance spokesman Jeff Guaracino said. "It was a spectacular event last year, and we're glad to have it back this year. We look at things on a yearly basis, but we're really hopeful that the tournament will find a permanent home in Atlantic City."

Association of Volleyball Professionals owner Donald Sun was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

General admission to the tournament will be free, but officials have added VIP packages. Prices and further details will be released at a later date.

Last year's tournament drew thousands of spectators. Fans filled the bleachers and a standing-room-only crowd looked on from the Boardwalk to see standouts such as former Olympians Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross, Jennifer Kessy, Jake Gibb, Todd Rogers and three-time Manhattan Beach Open champion Whitney Pavlik in action.

Officials at the alliance, co-sponsor IMG and the AVP have talked about adding even more fan-oriented events to the tournament, such as a "Food Truck Festival." They are also actively seeking a broadcast partner that would allow the event to be televised.

"We noticed that a lot of people that came last year stayed around for the entire tournament and were there from 12 in the afternoon to six at night," Guaracino said. "So we're looking for ways to enhance the experience for the fans."

Last year, Kessy and Ross won the women's division. The duo won a silver medal in the Summer Olympics in London in 2012. Gibb teamed with Casey Patterson to win the men's division.

The top duos are expected to be back again this year. The tournament will be the only East Coast stop on the AVP summer tour and will put Atlantic City back in the spotlight for the beach volleyball community.

"We took notice of where fans came from last year to watch," Guaracino said. "There were a lot of cars with out-of-state license plates and others even flew here for the event.

"Sports is an ongoing strategy for us in Atlantic City. Events like this, the Challenge Atlantic City (triathlon on June 29), and others are really putting Atlantic City on the outdoor sports map and that's something we're going to continue to take a look at."

Note: The Alliance also announced dates for a Fire on the Water Festival (May 17-18) that includes a firefighter combat challenge and an amateur boxing tournament pitting police against firefighters. The challenge will have pairs of competitors dressed in full gear race against the clock and head-to-head while simulating the physical demands of firefighting. Some of the tasks include climbing a five-story tower, dragging hoses and rescuing a 175-pound "victim." The free event will be held at Gardners Basin.

Contact David Weinberg:

609-272-7186