History of the AVP
The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) began on July 21, 1983, as an official players association to negotiate with private tournament promoters.The first AVP logo was designed by Ken Jencks and Steve Fisher of the Manhattan Beach Recreation Department. A few years later, a revised logo was designed by Rick Jurk. The current AVP logo includes a black and yellow jump man and volleyball.
One of the earliest tour sponsors was Miller Lite beer and play involved a double-elimination format, with select tournaments sponsored by Jose Cuervo tequila offering additional prize money and a unique format that narrowed the field to the top 8 teams, which then played in a round-robin to determine the top two teams for the championship match. Only men were allowed to compete on the tour in the early years. The AVP added women’s events in 1993 and ’94 while the main women’s tour, the Women’s Professional Volleyball Association struggled. The WPVA, which had a separate sponsorship with Coors, ceased operations in 1997, and the AVP included women from 1999 on.
Significant Moments in History
- 1983 On July 21, the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) is formed to protect players’ interests and to preserve the integrity of beach volleyball.
- 1984 Players strike at the World Championships in Redondo Beach. The AVP begins running its own tour.
- 1985 Bolle Sunglasses joins the AVP as a major sponsor. The total tour prize money reaches $275,000.
- 1985 The AVP Tour includes stops in eight states ( California, Florida, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Hawaii).
- 1986 AVP Pro Beach Volleyball receives cable television coverage via “Prime Ticket”, and Pro Beach Volleyball makes its network debut on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
- 1988 The AVP awards cash prizes for twenty-seven tournaments. The AVP signs a three-year contract with Miller that results in a total of $4.5 million in prize money. Miller hires the AVP to produce twenty-three Lite Beer events.
The early to mid 1990s are seen by many as the “glory years” of the AVP as the tour corporate sponsorship, and thus, prize money, was at its peak. This period was largely dominated by the team of volleyball legend Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes. The AVP also begun to hold women’s events, competing with the Women’s Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA) tour.
- 1990 NBC Sports makes its debut on the beach volleyball scene, broadcasting the Hermosa Beach event.
- 1991 The AVP adds the King of the Beach Event to their schedule. This event features a unique format where players play round-robin with different partners to determine the “King of the Beach.” One of the event’s creators, Karch Kiraly, wins the inaugural title.
- 1991 NBC Sports provides the first live coverage of an AVP tournament in Milwaukee.
- 1993 NBC Sports broadcasts a record ten AVP Tour events in a year in which prize money totals $3.7 million and more than 600,000 people attend AVP tournaments.
- 1993 AVP holds women’s events at sixteen of the men’s tour stops. In a unique format, eight players comprising four teams, exchanging partners weekly, battle all season with prize money paid at the end of the year. Holly McPeak wins the tour championship with eleven victories to claim the $65,000 first prize.
- 1994 The Miller Lite/AVP Tour and it’s twenty-seven events approach the $4 million mark in total prize money. Evian and Nestea join the growing list of AVP sponsors with Evian opting for an indoor event in Madison Square Garden.
- 1994 NBC’s total broadcast time climbs to twenty-one hours for ten events.
- 1995 The Miller Lite/AVP Tour grows to a record twenty-nine tournaments. The Evian Indoor Series becomes a full pre-season circuit, with events in Washington, DC, Boston, Minneapolis and New York.
- 1996 AVP teams dominate the U.S. Olympic Trials in Baltimore with the teams of Karch Kiraly/Kent Steffes and Mike Dodd/ Mike Whitmarsh advancing as the U.S. Olympic Team representatives.
- 1997 The 38th annual Manhattan Beach Open is canceled due to legal issues and a lawsuit brought against the City of Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County, and the AVP by a small local interest group. The event is moved down the coast to Hermosa Beach and renamed the Miller Lite Hermosa Beach Grand Slam.
- 1997 The AVP business collapses under mounting financial problems. AVP CEO Jerry Solomon is fired and Harry Usher, former US Olympic organizer is hired to run 1998 AVP Tour.
- 1998 Prize money is drastically cut as sponsors pull back on their support of the AVP. The AVP continues to struggle under extreme financial burden.
- 1998 Bill Berger and Dan Vrebalovich take over management of the AVP as CEO and COO respectively. They immediately fund the day-to-day business, and begin to restructure the AVP from a players association to a for-profit, privately owned entity. The AVP is placed into chapter 11 bankruptcy, the players are signed to new long-term agreements as independent contractors and a long-term turnaround deal is agreed to by the AVP’s creditors.
- 1999 Berger and Vrebalovich form a partnership with Spencer Trask Securities to form Major League Volleyball. MLV purchases the AVP out of bankruptcy and funds the 1999 Tour. The AVP holds twelve events with a total of $1 million prize money.
- 1999 The AVP once again sanctions women’s events at five men’s tournament tour stops. At the season ending event, combined with the King of the Beach, Holly McPeak is crowned Queen of the Beach.
2000 – 2012
- 2000 In a season of parity, eight different teams win tournaments in the eleven event season. Brazilian’s Jose Loiola and Emanuel Rego top the season with three victories.
- 2001 AVP unites the world’s best men’s and women’s professional beach volleyball players under one umbrella organization. With this historic unification of the men’s and women’s competition, the 2001 AVP Tour will be able to capitalize on having one property that can maximize sponsor dollars, marketing opportunities, media coverage and prize money. The AVP will now stand alone as the only professional beach volleyball tour in the country. It will follow the regulations set forth by USA Volleyball and the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) and will allow its players to compete in official tournaments en route to the 2004 Olympics.
- 2007 Hot Winter Nights, a series of 19 events in January and February, marks the first ever indoor beach volleyball tour.
- 2010 The AVP undergoes a reorganization led by investment group RJSM Partners.
- 2012 100% of AVP’s assets were purchased by AOS Group, LP. AOS owner Donald Sun takes over as owner of the AVP in April. The AVP hosts two tournaments, including the AVP Open in Cincinnati, Ohio over Labor Day weekend and the AVP Championships in Santa Barbara, Calif. Sept. 7-9.
2013 – 2015
The 2013 tour consisted of seven city stops and returned to television for the first time since 2010
- Salt Lake City: August 16–18
- Manhattan Beach: August 23–25
- Cincinnati: August 31-September 1
- Atlantic City: Sept. 6-8
- St. Petersburg: September 14–15
- Santa Barbara: September 28–29
- Huntington Beach: October 19–20
The 2014 season was one of the most compelling in memory as the team of Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross won every single event, dropping only three sets along the way. The men’s side featured slightly more parity with the team of Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson winning four of the seven events.
The 2015 season expectations for the women were altered drastically when top-ranked player, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, was forced to withdraw early on due to a shoulder injury, leaving partner April Ross with no choice but to pair with 3 different partners. Ross prevailed despite the circumstances, winning 4 of 8 event titles, the only AVP athlete ever to win four titles with three different partners in a single season, a feat which no doubt secured her win for 2015 AVP MVP. On the men’s side, Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb performed strong, clinching the first 3 events, including the gold medal at the FIVB Grand Slam in St. Petersburg, Florida. However, partners John Hyden and Tri Bourne gained momentum toward the tail end of the tour to win the final 2 events, including the AVP Championships in Huntington Beach.