A local volleyball match will be lobbed into the sport’s exclusive million-dollar club next month when it awards a record purse.

The Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach will tie the 2014 Gstaad Grand Slam for the largest purse awarded at a beach volleyball event, $1 million. The Asics tourney launched last year with a purse half that amount.

The top players in the world will be competing for the prize, including Olympic medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross and Phil Dalhauser.

Leonard Armato, chief executive of event organizer Management Plus Enterprises in El Segundo, said the goal is to keep beach volleyball in the public eye during the three years between summer Olympic Games.

The games help athletes qualify for the Olympics and he said that last year’s event was profitable.

“This is a local showcase, a national showcase and a global showcase,” Armato said. “We’re teaching the world how this sport should be presented both on site and on television.”

The Asics tournament competes for players with other tours, such as those organized by the Association of Volleyball Professionals and the National Volleyball League. The big purse, funded mostly by sponsors who get advertising and by broadcasters who get content rights, is significant because it will help Armato draw top names. The $1 million purse is split among the winning professional doubles teams.

“Beach volleyball’s combination of sex appeal and entertainment made it the hottest ticket at the Olympics,” Armato said. “I don’t think it’s reached its potential.”

– Philip Joens

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