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Volume 21 No. 2
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Jose Cuervo to title sponsor relaunched volleyball league

Jose Cuervo tequila is close to announcing a multiyear deal as title sponsor of the relaunched AVP, now a joint effort of IMG and USA Volleyball going by the name Beach Championship Series.

The AVP stopped play last August. The new version is scheduled to begin play this August.
Sources put the deal between $1.5 million and $2 million a year. The deal includes signage on nets and tents, as well as media on TV partner Versus, which will present live telecasts of the tour and show a number of half-hour beach volleyball weekly magazine shows.

Activation plans for the Diageo Cuervo brand include beach parties around tour events and at establishments selling Cuervo in the event’s market.

Sources said the Leverage Agency, New York, sold the deal, but agency principal Ben Sturner would not comment.

A four-event tour will start in late August at Manhattan Beach, Calif., perhaps the center of beach volleyball in America. It will continue with the U.S. Open of Beach Volleyball in Cincinnati on Labor Day weekend, followed by an event at Lummus Park on South Beach in Miami and a final event on Hermosa Beach, Calif., in late September.

With the stars of the defunct AVP now playing overseas on the FIVB Tour, the issue of conflict for the sport’s Olympic stars is paramount.

“We’re always excited to hear more about the resurrection of a top beach tour in the U.S. That’s a big goal for everybody, but the truth is we probably need to hear about it sooner to plan for a [U.S.] tour as soon as August,” said Ryan Morgan, the agent for gold medalist Kerri Walsh, commenting from Rome where Walsh was playing in the FIVB World Championships last week.

With the USA Volleyball imprint, the new tour is positioning itself as “the glide path to the 2012 Olympic Trials.” Even further down the road, at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, beach volleyball is expected to be the second-toughest ticket after soccer.

Cuervo has a history as a beach volleyball sponsor.
IMG will handle all of the tour’s operations and logistics. James Leitz, IMG senior vice president of action sports, said the tour is hoping to stage six or seven events in 2012. “As we look to rebuild the public and business community’s confidence, we will look at a more responsible business model, still based largely on sponsorship but also looking down the road to digital rights fees and possibly tickets,” Leitz said, “all dedicated to growing the sports and working with USAV to do that.”

Leitz and his group, which also runs the U.S. Open of Surfing, are based in Los Angeles. He would not comment on the Cuervo sponsorship.

Jose Cuervo has a history with beach volleyball, having sponsored the Cuervo Gold Crown for 10 years. Also known as the Triple Crown of Beach Volleyball, those were some of the first televised beach volleyball events. Cuervo also titled AVP events until the circuit suspended operations last August and later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.