Another sporting event is bolting the East Valley for the west side after a tiff over turf. The AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour won’t return to Tempe because the city demanded it repair the lawn at Tempe Beach Park after dumping tons of sand to make massive play courts.
Rather than fix the lawn, AVP opted to hold the spring tournament at Westgate City Center in Glendale. An official announcement will come today.
The three-day event drew volleyball players from across the nation and about 15,000 local sports fans. The city welcomed that — and the nationwide coverage from the Fox Sports Network.
What wasn’t so welcome were tons of sand that covered the lawn for more than three weeks, in exchange for just three days of play.
“Three weeks without water and sand covering the grass — it kills it,” said Travis Dray, deputy manager of recreation services for Tempe.
The tournament was hardly the largest event at the park, but it caused more damage than any other event, Dray said.
The event’s nine courts cov- ered much of the park and it took nearly all summer for the grass to recover, Dray said.
Tempe wanted AVP to pay for other expenses the city incurred to host the event. Also, the city thought AVP could have set up and torn down the event in half the time in order to reduce damage and keep the park from being tied up for so long.
“One of our goals with AVP was to try to return the park to the community in a usable condition,” Dray said.
After six months of negotiation, AVP told Tempe it wasn’t coming back, Dray said Tuesday.
AVP has held the event in Tempe four times, the last two times in the first week of May. An AVP representative did not return phone calls Tuesday.
Glendale has also become home of the Arizona Cardinals and the Fiesta Bowl, which moved from Tempe.
Tempe’s demands on AVP came as the city pondered ways to keep people from loving Tempe Beach Park to death. It’s a welcome problem in some respects, as the park was deserted when the city opened Town Lake in the late 1990s. The city now turns away organizations that want to host events and often receives complaints that the park is overused.
The city has scheduled about 94 events this year, though AVP’s departure could open space for several more. The city isn’t recruiting a replacement, Dray said, because event organizers are clamoring to use the lakeside park.
Meanwhile, the city is about to decide if it will turn away another event, the alt-rock EdgeFest. The concert moved from the West Valley last fall and became the only event in the park’s history that police don’t want back. EdgeFest drew twice as many fans as expected, so organizers didn’t have enough food, water or security.
Bands also violated the city’s PG-type clause on behavior by using raunchy lyrics that could be heard elsewhere at Beach Park. Police also complained about excessive drinking and marijuana use.
City officials expect to make a decision on Edge-Fest later this month.