The plug has apparently been pulled on the City of Long Beach’s plan to replace long-standing volleyball leagues, a move coming after a meeting between city officials and the local volleyball community earlier this week.
Nearly 100 volleyball players and community members showed up at the Long Beach Ice Arena Tuesday for a presentation by the city’s Beach-Park and Recreation departments that proposed to replace the two existing leagues, Evolutions Volleyball and East End Volleyball. The proposal included less expensive registration fees: $450 for teams in the four-player league ($210 less than what Evolutions Volleyball charges); and $550 for teams in the six-player league ($150 less than East End Volleyball’s fee). The city projected $253,000 in revenue for the league’s first year.
Most of people in attendance, however, voiced support for the existing private leagues. Defending his Hamptons-based business of 35 years, Richard Heiles, a co-owner of EEVB, said he was in Florida running volleyball tournaments when Bob Piazza, commissioner of the Long Beach Beach-Park and Recreation Department, called to inform him that the city planned to replace his league. Heiles believed the city was looking to rush a plan through without offering the leagues the opportunity to improve their operations.
“I think that this all kind of stemmed out of miscommunications, and we got all that worked out now,” Heiles told Patch on Thursday. “Competition makes you better, and that’s what has come out of this whole situation.”
The city on Thursday morning posted on its website a brief statement from City Council President Fran Adleson announcing in part that the existing leagues and city will offer a standardization of fees, but the statement offered no further details on the agreement.
“The City would like to thank the league owners for their responsiveness to resident, public safety, and quality of life concerns, and ensuring that the highest level of volleyball will continue to take place on the beach,” the statement reads. City officials did not respond to calls for comment Thursday morning.
Piazza, the moderator of Tuesday’s forum, explained that the idea for a new league was originally put together due to the city’s concerns for how Evolutions and EEVB have operated on city beaches, where they have run their leagues for about 25 years. Among the concerns were alcohol consumption on beaches and littering.
“With growing and prospering, there have been growing pains for the city as well,” Piazza said. “We showed them the presentation, heard the response and I believe that all parties walked away from this experience with a feeling that a better product would be offered for all.”
Volleyball players and Long Beach residents Chris Sullivan and Vinny Leis said they designed the layout for the city-run league after they were approached by officials to create something to better suit the city, the volleyball players and residents. Their plan also called to reduce the size of the program from a 60-net system to a 40-net system between Edwards and Long Beach Boulevards, an area further removed from residences.
“We came up with a solution for the city’s complaints,” Sullivan said at the meeting. “When we thought about it, we were putting together ideas for how to better the league.”
Although Sullivan and Leis posed solutions to many of the city’s concerns with the leagues, a majority of the audience seemed to reject their plan and questioned the city’s intentions. Some suggested that it was moved by the new administration to generate revenue during a declared fiscal crisis. But Piazza denied that it was a politically backed move.