Each AVP event, year after year as it continues to build and build on its now-annual stops, becomes, in the always-immortal words of Ed Ratledge, “electric.”
“I love that it’s same cities, the same time of year,” said Ratledge, who will be playing his 21st season on the AVP Tour in 2020. “I think that really gives a consistent vibe for the fans and it’s on their radar already from last year, so on the ground fans know we’re coming to their cities and they can schedule around that.”
And they can all do it again this year.
The AVP announced its 2020 schedule on Tuesday and it will feature all of the same cities on all of the same weekends it did a year ago. In releasing its schedule in early December, it assures that beach voleyball pros and fans alike can make plans for 2020.
Last year, the only change in the schedule was the swapping of San Francisco on July 4 weekend for Hawai’i in the middle of September. This year, there is no such change, and the month-long gap between Seattle (June 19-21) and Hermosa Beach (July 24-26) remains, which serves as a sort of half-time break during the sprint that is the AVP season.
Ratledge points to the continuity in both site and date that has been a major factor in booming attendance and VIP sales over the past few seasons.
“I think that’s really nicely shown by the VIP ticket sales,” said Ratledge, who plays with Rafu Rodriguez and won in San Francisco in 2017. “They sell out in like a minute now because they’ve got that weekend blocked off in their calendar because they know the AVP is coming to town.”
There are, of course, conflicts with the FIVB schedule, as is mostly inevitable.
The Huntington Open (May 1-3) collides with the FIVB Siming four-star, meaning at least three men’s teams and likely four women’s teams will be in China. It’s also the same weekend as the NCAA’s National Collegiate Beach Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Austin (May 15-17) coincides with the FIVB Jinjiang three-star, though how many teams skip an AVP for a three-star on the other side of the planet with far less prize money will remain to be seen.
The New York Open — a Gold Series event — is the same weekend as the FIVB Moscow four-star, which, with only one event remaining in the Olympic qualifying period, will be almost a must-play for the remaining Olympic hopefuls.
Seattle (June 19-21) is entirely conflict free, lest someone should skip for the FIVB one-star in the Dominican Republic.
Hermosa (July 24-26) is on the first two days of the Olympic Games, so only the four teams representing the United States in Tokyo will be amiss. The Olympic volleyball is scheduled for July 25-August 9.
The biggest event on the AVP calendar, the Manhattan Beach Open (August 14-16), is on the same weekend as one of the biggest on the FIVB calendar: The FIVB Vienna Major.
Currently, there are no FIVB events scheduled in September, which should make the fields for Chicago (September 4-6) and Hawai’i (September 18-20) completely full.
“I really enjoyed the stops that the AVP had in 2019 and I’m excited that we get to travel to each of these unique locations again,” said Tim Bomgren, who has played on the AVP since 2013 and was named the Breakthrough Team of the Year in 2019.
“Each location has its own beauty to it. New York and Chicago have the urban setting with the skyscrapers. Austin has the intensity with the crowd. Seattle’s backdrop — yup. Hawai’i, obvious. And as a Minnesotan, I take every chance I can to bring my family to California.”