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.

Now, the academy is in use nearly every day by kids as well as the occasional professional ballplayer who stops by to practice with younger players. It is also used by MLB as a training facility for umpires, and it hosts an annual college tournament pitting traditionally black colleges against local universities.

“The talent pool in the area has dramatically increased because we have eliminated the financial barriers of entry for playing baseball,” said Darrell Miller, senior director of the MLB Urban Youth Academy and a former pro player.

The facility operates with the support of local baseball teams and corporate sponsors, including the Los Angeles Dodgers. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner Arte Moreno was the largest donor with a $500,000 commitment. The funding helps with operating costs, which total $250,000 annually for maintenance alone. Equipment manufacturer Rawlings has a multiyear deal that contributes $25,000 worth of equipment.

Two Buck Chuckers

At $2, the Los Angeles Clippers might be the best deal in town – as long as you don’t mind watching a loser.

While individual game tickets are still available at the box office for regular prices, the secondary market has hundreds of ticket listings for remaining games with prices far below face value. Some season ticket holders are trying to dump upper-level tickets that can cost $14 for as little as $2. Premier Level tickets, which can cost $90, can be found for $30. The buyer has to pay transaction fees to secondary sites like Stub Hub.

In contrast, the cheapest ticket available for a seat at the Los Angeles Lakers’ March 9 game against the Toronto Raptors was going for $30.

Simply lowering prices is not an option for the Clippers, who could potentially sell more tickets if their prices matched the secondary market economics. Poorly performing teams often see a backlash from season ticket holders who pay full price for seats in sections that are later discounted.

There is one remaining game where tickets are selling above face value – the season ending match against the Lakers.

The Clippers declined to comment on whether or not they will lower ticket prices.

Staff reporter David Nusbaum can be reached at dnusbaum@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 236.

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