Trading snow for sand, the Association of Volleyball Professionals will dump roughly 200 tons of the latter onto the floor of the Ford Center on Thursday night. Its members will don their finest bathing suits and kick off "Hot Winter Nights," an indoor beach volleyball tour in its inaugural season.
"We're bringing summer to the winter in a unique way for people who wouldn't otherwise be able to experience AVP beach volleyball and its culture," said Leonard Armato, AVP owner and commissioner.
The tournament entails four men and four women, who will be competing for $25,000 in prize money. The players will pair off, play a match and then switch partners. At the end of the night, there will be a male and female winner.
"Hot Winter Nights" is aimed at the landlocked states, and the top players will be brought in to make a good first impression.
"Volleyball is one of our great American sports that was invented here, and I think it's one of the most undermarketed sports and has a huge growth potential," Armato said.
It won't be enough to just bring the sand, the suits and the players, he said; AVP also will bring the atmosphere. The sand will be open for the fans, with sponsors on hand to help replicate the beach party atmosphere.
"At the Olympics, this is the hottest ticket, because the fans that come have a great time," Armato said. "It'll also be a fast-paced game, kind of a mini version of what we normally do." "Charles Martin