The Long Beach summer volleyball leagues have become a staple of the summer and the strength of the Long Beach community to organize and handle things ourselves. Half sporting event, half party, half community meeting (three halves?), Monday-Thursday at 6:30PM on the beach is the place to be.
Following the pattern of major news events in recent months, I was learned about this issue through Facebook, in an event invitation that read more like a call to arms, titled Help Save Our Volleyball Leagues in Long Beach!!!!!
Long story short, the message reads that the new Parks Department Director may be looking to not renew the City’s beach leases to East End Volleyball and Evolutions, and instead turn the volleyball leagues into a City-run program.
Obviously, some seem to have some pretty strong opinions about this rumored plan and argue a compelling case as to why the City should maintain the policy its had for the last 25-some years. The group’s organizers highlight the facts that: the volleyball leagues rose from nothing to more than 50 courts with 150 teams an evening; pay large fees directly to the City’s general fund; help local business (have you ever seen how packed the bars become on Thursday nights?), and have created yet another community tradition making Long Beach what it is.
I’ve reached out to Parks Director Bob Piazza and will be following up with the City’s official stance on this.
The group calls on everyone to contact the City and demand that these “terrible” changes not go through. Further, the group calls on its members to go to March 20th’s City Council meeting.
Comments on the group’s page are mostly negative of the possible changes, saying things like “this is awful,” and “Long Beach has the best league… the whole town benefits…” I think one commenter summed up my sentiments perfectly, “I JUST WANA (sic) PLAY.”
These are the issues that really fire me up – when the things that I love about Long Beach become seemingly threatened – so I’ll be sure to give you the full story in the coming days. I’m including the full message from the group below in case you’re not a Facebooker.
East End Volleyball and Evolutions have been informed by Bob Piazza, the new Parks Department Director that his department taking the leagues away from us STARTING THIS YEAR – SUMMER 2012!!
This decision is TERRIBLE. Both Rich and Kevin have both worked very hard for 25 years investing in this program, building it up into the largest beach league in the country and are very disappointed that the City would try to tear it away from ALL of us and destroy all that we have built up. This decision will tear apart the community and its camaraderie and convert the leagues into another non-descript recreational program. It is not right that a new administration will come in and break up an extremely popular and successful program like it is proposing to do with these leagues.
The City of Long Beach should be extremely happy with beach volleyball activities that have grown throughout the years and the benefits these leagues have created:
• Fees for the general fund
• Revenues to local businesses
• Buyers for its home which keeps up property values
• Healthy activities for its residents and visitors.
PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY MANAGER AND CITY COUNCIL:
• If you are a Long Beach resident please let them know that you are not happy with what they are planning and that you will exercise your vote and voice to force a change in this policy
• If you are an out of town player please let them know that you will not play in their league and will move to other locations such as Cedar Beach or any other location that EEVB and Evolutions find
• To bring to the attention of the Council and City Manager what an important part of the Long Beach life style beach volleyball is.
• We want them to work with EEVB and Evolutions to let the leagues continue as they have been for the past 25 years. We do not see how the Parks Dept. will be able to take over the league and assign 150 teams/night onto 50 courts, post all records and schedules online, give out t-shirts to all the players and prizes to the winners and coordinate after play parties with complimentary buffets the way that EEVB and Evolutions has done.
• We want the City to work with us to develop a weekly beach volleyball program at Riverside that will include:
o A mix of large events that attract top players from around the country and small tournaments where locals can get valuable tournament experience
o Junior tournaments
o Beach volleyball court rentals for out of town visitors such as NYC players who cannot bring their own nets with them.
o Put up permanent courts for use by the general public throughout the City that we will maintain.
• To find an amicable agreement for all involved parties to work towards making Long Beach one of the top beach volleyball locations in the country.
We are asking everyone to voice their opinion to the City Manager, all members of the City council, and to any media outlets you follow including the Long Beach Herald and the Long Beach Patch. Here are their contact info:
City Manager Jack Schnirman email@example.com, (516) 431-1001
Council President Fran Adelson firstname.lastname@example.org
City Council VP Len Torres email@example.com
Council Member Michael Fagen firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Member Scott J. Mandel email@example.com
Council Member John McLaughlin firstname.lastname@example.org
Please call 431-1000 x 7200 to reach the members of the City Council.
Long Beach Herald Editor: Anthony Rifilato, ext. 213, Email: email@example.com
Long Beach Patch go to http://longbeach.patch.com/contact-us and post your letter
We are not sure why the City of Long Beach would take this position. EEVB and Evolutions started these leagues in the mid 1980’s when nothing was happening on the beach and have built them into 50 court weeknight events that brought in over $65,000 in fees for the City last year and over ½ million dollars over the course of the leagues. The leagues have been well run and received by the players which is evident by the constant growth over the years. The City would be happy if all of their programs would show similar growth and popularity.
The 2 leagues have also been solid members of the community helping with the set up of the Michelle O’Neil Tournament and the Lt Williams Tournament over the years plus numerous other charitable donations. We have set up the volleyball equipment every summer and let anyone use the equipment when leagues were not using it including the Long Beach parks Department for their Junior Program.
Long Beach is a very unique place especially in the world of beach volleyball. There is no other city or region like it in the country except maybe the beaches around Los Angeles. There are more beach volleyball players in Long Beach than any other community in the country with close to 1200 players who compete in leagues, weekend tournaments or pickup games. Since most elections in Long Beach are decided by 200 votes the beach volleyball players could easily have a big impact if they all voted as a block.
But instead of being happy the City has made it hard for the sport to flourish. From restricting where recreational nets could be set up to limiting the size and location of the leagues to pricing out weekend tournaments, the city looks as if it does not want beach volleyball to be a part of the Long Beach scene.
A surfer at the March 6 City Council meeting communicated how Long Beach has become world famous after last year’s Quiksilver Surfing Championship. He mentioned how this is bringing publicity and revenues from out of town visitors and creating “good problems” such as not enough beaches for all of the surfers who come into the city. The council is working with them to deal with these problems and to make Long Beach better for surfers and local residents. We applaud the City Council for doing this.
Our question is: Imagine if the City had taken the same viewpoint about beach volleyball? In 2010 they turned down a request from the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour because the lifeguards said there was not enough space for rescue vehicles to get through. That did not seem to be a problem when they accepted the Quiksilver event.
The City did allow the Corona Light Wide Open Tour to come to Long Beach in 2010 but scared them away from future events when then charged them 4 times what they charged for other weekend volleyball tournaments and they told them that they would be allowed to have beer signage and a regulated “beer garden” during the event only to cancel that provision Wednesday before the event.
East End Volleyball has been holding tournaments in Long Beach since 1985. We reached a peak of 10 events/season during the late 1990’s but have since dropped down to 1 event last year because of excessively high fees charged by the City.
The lifeguards had a legitimate complaint 4 years ago about too many people being on the beach around the Edwards Ave. end of the volleyball courts. We agreed to stop using that area for tournaments and asked that these courts be designated for weeknight league use only and painted for use as part of the emergency lane on weekends. After a year of fighting they finally agreed to that.
If we can get the City to change it position and to let EEVB and Evolutions run the leagues and build up beach volleyball programs we will manage all of the facets of an extensive beach volleyball program that Long Beach should have been developing over the years. We would like the City to appreciate what we have all helped to build and help create an even better program that benefits everyone: The City, the players, the residents, the visitors and our companies. We do not think the City should just come in and take away a very valuable program that functions smoothly and will probably be as shell of itself in 2 years if this is allowed to happen. The perfect example of what should be happening is Cedar Beach in the Town of Babylon which was a 2 court sparsely attended program when EEVB took over. Through cooperation with the Town, EEVB and The Beach Hut Cedar beach is now a popular destination for town residents and visitors that is creating “good problems” like where to park everyone.
Thanks for your support. Please feel free to contact Rich or Kevin if you have any questions:
Richard Heiles, East End Volleyball, firstname.lastname@example.org, 631-728-0397 or 631-355-1293 (Cell)
Kevin Kilarney, email@example.com, 516-897-2531