Council allows paid seating at three Hermosa Open courts

by Robb Fulcher
Published January 15, 2009

The City Council gave approval to the Association of Volleyball Professionals to again charge admission to spectators at the center court and two “feature courts” for the Hermosa Open beach volleyball tournament in August.
Approval came on a 4-1 vote. Councilman Michael DiVirgilio cast the dissenting vote, saying he wanted a more complete report on the matter from city staff in advance of a decision.
The council backed the AVP against the wishes of the local chapter of the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation. Both groups argued that the level of paid attendance restricts public access to the beach. Sierra Club asked for a smaller amount of paid admission, following the example of the AVP tourney in Manhattan Beach. Surfrider pushed for total free admission to the Hermosa event.
Denny Lennon, tour director for Amateur Athletic Union beach volleyball, sided with the AVP, telling the council that the young amateur players look up to the AVP and describing the 40-year-old Hermosa Open as a marquee event.
Dave Williams of the AVP said the organization is struggling financially and needs the paid admission.
Councilman Michael Keegan said at least five Hermosans with home mortgages make a living playing pro volleyball.
“This is a stimulus package,” Keegan said. “We have to keep it going.”
Keegan said the paid seating did not unreasonably restrict beach access, and offered to hold the hands of people who thought otherwise and lead them around the volleyball courts to the shoreline.
Mayor J.R. Reviczky also said beach access is not unreasonably restricted, and pointed out that admission to almost all the 14 courts is free. He and Councilman Kit Bobko said they heard few complaints from Hermosans about paid admission last year.
Under a contract unanimously approved by the City Council in 2005, the AVP can charge admission to the extent that the California Coastal Commission will allow. In 2006 the Coastal Commission cleared the AVP to charge admission for as much as 90 percent of the seating at the Hermosa Open.
The 2009 Hermosa Open is expected to draw about 4,000 spectators. ER