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Tons of sand arrive to prepare the Home Depot Center for volleyball

September 15, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

For all the money plowed into the Home Depot Center, $150 million in all, there was one item that wasn't accounted for in the budget.

Sand. Lots of it.

An Olympic-qualifying beach volleyball tournament begins Thursday at the Carson complex that a week ago didn't have enough sand to fill a preschool sandbox.

Four thousand tons of sand were trucked to the Home Depot Center last week from an industrial sand company in Orange County. More sand was brought in from housing excavation sites in Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.

The sand's free at the beach, but the Home Depot Center, 10 miles from the ocean, agreed to play host to three international beach volleyball tournaments over the next three years.

Check, please.

Total cost for the sand: $100,000.

The Home Depot Center's owner, Anschutz Entertainment Group, isn't on the hook by itself. The U.S. tour, the AVP, will help pick up the tab.

"We're taking the Southern California beach culture and applying it to an Olympic-type experience," AVP Commissioner Leonard Armato said.

The 8,000-seat tennis stadium will become center court for the Federation Internationale de Volleyball tournament, which ends Sunday with the men's and women's championships. The sand will be poured over plastic sheets to protect the court.

The tournament is one of 20 sponsored by the FIVB throughout the world during a 14-month span that ends next August. Players can qualify for next year's Olympics only by successfully competing on the FIVB tour.

Two men's and two women's teams from each country will make the Athens Olympics. This week's tournament is the only one in the U.S. that counts toward qualifying for next year's Olympics.

It is unclear where the sand from this tournament will end up. Some of it might stay at the Home Depot Center, which is negotiating with the AVP over the creation of four to six permanent, on-site beach volleyball courts.

The AVP has found ways to sell sand at other landlocked venues.

After a tournament this month in Las Vegas, the sand was sold to Clark County, Nev., which used it for city parks. After a tournament in April in Tempe, Ariz., Arizona State bought the sand for landscaping.

This won't be the first landlocked beach volleyball event in Southern California.

Six years ago, Armato was one of the organizers of an international tournament on the tennis courts at UCLA that also required sand to be delivered from the beach.

Despite the presence of Nike's corporate money, the tournament was unsuccessful.

An estimated $1.5 million was lost, sources said.

Lessons have been learned, Armato said.

"It takes time to build up a sport," Armato said. "People forget the Super Bowl had many empty seats the first time it was played. We expect people to come out and watch the teams that will be competing in the Olympics."

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