OCEAN CITY – The City Council will watch the professional volleyball tournament with crossed fingers next weekend, in hopes that the event will make waves for what’s happening on the court, rather than what’s going on behind the proverbial curtain.
The AVP Crocs Pro Volleyball tournament, expected to bring national television coverage, gold medal winning athletes, along with six tractor trailer trucks carrying a makeshift beach stadium, will be allowed to provide its corporate sponsors with some libations to enjoy in the VIP tents on the beach in between Dorchester and Somerset streets.
The council had originally thwarted the request for alcohol sales on the beach, citing a nearby “Play it Safe” event held around the same time and same area on the beach as the main reason, with competition with Boardwalk vendors also raised as a concern.
Corrigan Sports’ Brett Wolf, who along with Don Abramson brought the AVP tour idea to the town, went back in front of the council to request alcohol be allowed to be “given away” rather than sold in the VIP tents only, seemingly to appease the big corporate sponsors for the event.
Wolf applied to limit the consumption of the alcohol to the exclusive areas that the general public would not have access to, thus not competing with the Boardwalk merchants who sell alcohol, or creating a potential concern for on-looking families and perhaps a hypocritical message to the neighboring “Play it Safe” students who are encouraged to engage in outdoor and fun activities without the consumption of alcohol.
Wolf emphasized alcohol served at the event would not become a main talking point after the fact.
““If this part of the tournament screws up, it’s going to have a negative light on the chance to do the tournament here next year, or look bad on the event in general,” said Wolf.
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas, who as a Boardwalk shop owner is rarely an advocate of outside merchants offering goods on the Boardwalk, was consistent with her thoughts.
“I’d really hate for us to compete with the Boardwalk businesses, and I don’t even like that they are just going to give it away either,” said Pillas, “but we need to be careful not to impair the businesses who are there to do business.”
Wolf answered back to that claim, citing that Boardwalk vendors he’s spoken with have seen substantial incremental spikes in their business during smaller scale volleyball tournaments held in years past, and was confident the AVP event, which is much more grandiose on all levels, would have a greater effect.
The council voted 5-1, with Council President Joe Mitrecic in opposition, to allow the consumption of beer and wine in the VIP tents only at the AVP volleyball tournaments. The council made a point to specify that mixed drinks would not be allowed.
Councilman Doug Cymek mirrored the thoughts of both Mayor Rick Meehan and Mitrecic that a model for alcohol consumption or sales at the town’s special events should look more like the Geico Power Boat show, than this weekend’s Air Show.
“I think you need to seek alternatives to this,” said Cymek. “The boat races had alcohol served at a hotel, which served as the headquarters for the event, and had an area away from the beach which served alcohol under their own license.”
Mitrecic disagrees with any bit of sale or give-away of products on the Boardwalk, and unlike Pillas, who voted for the motion despite speaking out against it, stayed consistent.
“I’ve been steadfast my whole career on this, in fact I came before the council for the first time talking about how I was angry that a volleyball tournament was selling Gatorades in front of my store.”