AVP Inc., the L.A. operator of the professional beach volleyball tour, has a surprising “new” business strategy: play more tournaments on real beaches where fans already are.

Historically, the Association of Volleyball Professionals tour has staged stand-alone events in parks and trucked in sand to build the courts. This season, AVP is holding more beach matches at the same time as other large events. For example, a new Malibu tour stop in July will take place concurrently with the Malibu Surf & Sport Festival, an annual event that draws 35,000 people. What’s more, the stop was seen as a natural fit with tour sponsor Malibu Rum.

“Our biggest considerations were the volleyball community within tour locations and how valuable the stops are for our sponsors,” said Jason Hodell, AVP chief executive.

The schedule, announced last week, has 10 of the 12 tour stops on natural beaches, including Huntington Beach, where the tournament will pair with the U.S. Open of Bodyboarding and a Professional Longboard Association event.

AVP eliminated poorly performing events in five cities, including in San Diego, Atlanta and Houston. Aside from Malibu, events were added in Santa Barbara and an undetermined L.A. location, giving the tour two fewer stops than last year.

However, the tour’s national television contract is larger, with ABC and ESPN broadcasting 13 men’s or women’s finals matches. Last year, only six finals were shown on national television as part of a deal with NBC.

AVP also expects to host more amateur and entry level professional events to increase beach volleyball development. It hired former player Mike Dodd as tour commissioner to oversee that initiative. Previously, Hodell also served as tour commissioner.

“In the past, we were focused on the professional tour only, but now we are branching out with junior camps, college and professional tour qualifying events,” Hodell said. “This has massively increased the work that we do in sports development and we wanted to bring on someone full time to oversee that work.”

The tour will kick off in Fort Lauderdale on April 16.

Inner City

A program to revive baseball in the inner city is thriving in Compton, and Major League Baseball hopes that the program can serve as a model for similar facilities across the country.

Five years ago, MLB built the Urban Youth Academy on a 25-acre complex on the campus of El Camino College. The idea was to engage inner-city youth who have been increasingly shunning baseball for others sports.

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