The struggling beach volleyball tour abruptly canceled the remainder of its season and closed Friday on the eve of its premier event, citing “financial hardship.”

AVP Inc., based in Los Angeles, issued a late afternoon press release stating that the company would no longer fund the tour and could not find new investors.

“On behalf of AVP staff we want to express our sincere gratitude to fans, players, partners and sponsors,” said Jason Hodell, AVP chief executive, in the prepared statement.

The tour’s four-day Manhattan Beach Open was set to begin on Thursday. The event is the oldest continuing beach volleyball tournament and has traditionally attracted the tour’s best players and largest crowds.

The event could still take place if another event operator or the city itself takes over, according to an AVP representative.

AVP struggled for years to turn a profit as a publicly-traded company before being taken private in 2008 by Leonard Armato, the tour’s prior chief executive.

Armato departed the company last year and Hodell tried to turn around the company by adding television deals and new sponsors. They included this year’s title tour sponsor Nivea, a manufacturer of skin care products, which replaced shoe manufacturer Crocs Inc. Crocs did not renew its deal after serving as title sponsor for five years.

The AVP was established in 1983 by leading players and held its first tour in 1988. It has been home to stars such as Karch Kiraly and recent Olympic Gold medal winners Misty May and Kerri Walsh.

The tour has been critical in popularizing beach volleyball which became an Olympic sport in 1996. However, the tour has had trouble attracting investors, sponsors and television audiences.

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