.

Up in the Air: To 6-Man or Not?

City Council will determine the fate of the popular beach volleyball tournament that hasn't raised enough money to cover its operating costs.

Let them play!

At least that's what some beach volleyball lovers are saying about the Charlie Saikley 6-Man volleyball tournament that is $102,000 short of covering its cost to the city. City Council will discuss tonight at its regularly scheduled meeting whether or not the 2011 tournament, scheduled to hit the sand July 30 and 31, should have its operational deficit covered by other city coffers or be cancelled.

The tournament, named for the former Manhattan Beach city parks and recreation supervisor who ran it for more than 40 years before he passed away in 2005, is extremely popular, in recent years attracting crowds of 50,000-65,000 during its two days on the beach south of the Manhattan Beach Pier.

Indeed, what began as a homegrown, homespun local event in 1964, setting the stage for beach volleyball to become a professional sport, has turned into a nightmare for some residents due to the throngs who consider the event a time to party with alcohol.

“I try to stay away from the beach that weekend,” said Mike Mahoney, a Manhattan Beach resident who lives in the affected area. “Two years ago, people were urinating in my front yard, vomiting on the sidewalk and fornicating in the alley, it was a nightmare.”

The city banned alcohol from the event last year, hoping to curtail the effects of drunken spectators, adding 35 police officers and 65 private security guards to patrol the tournament. Thirty-eight tournament-related arrests were made.

“Our first priority is to make sure we protect our citizens and their property,” said Wayne Powell, Manhattan Beach City Councilman. “I think that when we took alcohol off the beach [in 2010], we pushed those people onto Manhattan Beach Boulevard which created a whole host of problems.”

To offset the costs of having every Manhattan Beach police officer on duty and hiring outside security, the tournament increased its registration fees and limited the number of teams that could compete. Last year, 143 teams registered, resulting in a $54,000 shortfall that the city covered. This year, 85 out of a possible 180 teams have registered, raising $100,000 of the $202,000 needed to cover expenses.

“This is our city’s biggest event every year,” Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery said. “As someone who has competed for the last 14 years in the event, I would hate to see this unique tradition changed in any way but we are short money and need to find a way to keep this event alive.”

Saikley, like the tournament, is considered a sacred institution to many longtime beach residents. His nickname was the “Godfather of beach volleyball” because he was credited with starting, in 1965, the Manhattan Beach Open, considered the most prestigious beach volleyball tournament in the world.

“He’s the reason so many of us don’t have to work a regular job,” said Albert Hanneman, former professional beach volleyball player. “We as players owe a lot to him and I know how passionate he was about the 6-man tournament, so I think we need to keep that tradition going.”

“I think that we need to come up with some solutions that are realistic,” said Mayor Montgomery. “I think that if we ask the businesses around the area that benefit most from this event to contribute some money, I think they will, but we can’t afford to lose this piece of our identity.”

The tournament, famous for its wild costumes and party atmosphere as professional beach volleyball players play alongside friends, is not the way the tournament was intended to be, said Councilman Powell.

“I think that Charlie would have a hard time with this current incarnation of the tournament. This was a tournament about sportsmanship, camaraderie and having fun while competing, not about being a destination stop for the frat party crowd. If you google our city or search our city on Yahoo, this tournament pops up on the list.

“I think the internet and blogs have got it all wrong because we don’t want to cancel this event but we have to find ways to make this tournament at least break even for our city, especially in this crazy economy.”

Gerry O'Connor July 05, 2011 at 10:40 PM
This isn't about Charlie Saikley; this is about managing yet another activity that has grown in popularity far beyond what was originally envisioned, and no longer safely fits either the venue or business model. Staff saw this potential shortfall coming, should have rescrutinized the recent remodel of this event and proposed resultant event revisions to Council tonight. Instead, tonight’s staff report to Council offers only a cursory overview, provides exactly no analysis or added value, and only provides Council the overly simplistic choice of spending 102K unbudgeted taxpayer dollars or just canceling the event (less than four weeks before its date). The staff suggestion that taxpayers simply foot the unbudgeted $102K bill defines that staff has yet to understand our current economic climate, and remains alarmingly insulated from any budgetary concerns whatsoever. It's no wonder Council meetings run to 1:30 in the morning -- Council is having to do the operations level work of a very well compensated staff! In fact, much bigger than the 6 Man Volleyball Tournament or any other particular event is the critical staff management failure exemplified here. Council bears ultimate responsibility for such staff management challenges and, with six months under his belt, must now empower our new City Manager to get to retraining and/or replacing his senior staff, as necessary.
Duke Noor July 06, 2011 at 06:42 PM
I agree with Gerry (above) and would like to add that the beach is a natural resource, that should afford equal and free access for all. The Sacred Sands of our beautiful beaches should remain as such, not compromised by mostly out-of-towners just coming to party and abuse our birth-rights. Regional taxpayers deserve passage and usage on all of the beach, not selected parts of it. This is exactly why the Coastal Act was initiated and why it has prevailed for so long insuring California residents that "life's a beach" !!!

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something