A week before the start of their most glamorous event of the season, the Association of Volleyball Professionals Tour decided it couldn’t find enough money to finish this summer’s season and Friday declared it over.
The AVP has been unsuccessful at finding new investors so its players could compete in the final five events of the year. Last month, when the tour stopped in Long Beach, AVP officials had a conference call with players and told them that because of dire financial straits, this could be the last event of the year. A couple weeks later, the San Francisco event due for early August was rescheduled until September.
“On behalf of AVP staff we want to express our sincere gratitude to fans, players, partners and sponsors,” said Jason Hodell, AVP CEO. “Words cannot express our profound disappointment.”
First-year AVP commissioner and beach legend Mike Dodd said: “Through the course of this investor search we have encountered individuals and groups with intelligence, common sense and a passion for the game of beach volleyball. Unfortunately, the time constraints were such that pulling the trigger on the amount of money necessary to salvage this season were too great.”
The Manhattan Beach Open, also known as the Wimbledon of beach volleyball, was set to start next Friday, with the men’s and women’s final set for Sunday, Aug. 22. The women’s final was to have been shown live on ABC, while ESPN had a contract in place to show one or both finals each week.
“Ironically this sad news comes as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Manhattan Open, our sport’s crown jewel and the one event that showed us all we could dream big,” said Dodd, who has won the event five times as player. “The Open has seen its ups and downs over the years and always persevered. I’m sure our sport will do the same.”
This season had only 12 events scheduled, most on the West Coast. Seven have already been played — the last, in Long Beach, when rumors of the AVP’s financial problems first became public. The tour, which started in April in Fort Lauderdale, was to have run through September, closing out in Hermosa Beach.
The tour added new sponsors for this season, including a new title sponsor with Nivea, after Crocs ended its funding after last year.
The AVP has been in existence the last 23 years, with AVP players winning at least one gold medal in each Summer Olympic since the sport became part of the Olympics in 1996.