Beach bums! Pro volleyball shuns Coney, serves up in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Some beach: It may be no Coney Island, but The Association of Volleyball Professionals chose Brooklyn Bridge Park to host the women’s qualifying games of the Kingston New York City Open tournament on Thursday.
Photo by Jason Speakman

This is a real spike in the face!

Professional beach volleyball made its long-awaited return to Brooklyn on Thursday, but Coney Islanders are livid that the league refused to revive its tournament on the actual beach in their ’hood, opting instead for the artificial courts in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

“I think they’re being foolish,” said Dick Zigun, founder of Sideshows by the Seashore. “If you’re a New Yorker you should understand that you should play volleyball at Coney Island.”

The Association of Volleyball Professionals — the self-described “premier U.S. pro beach volleyball league” — debuted a tournament called the Brooklyn Open at the People’s Playground to great fanfare in 2006. But the sand-sport syndicate ditched the contest in 2010, blaming the slow economy and a lack of sponsors.

The league finally returned to New York last week with a new tourney dubbed the New York City Open, which included heats in Brooklyn and on the distant island of Manhattan. But instead of returning to the sun-kissed shores of Sodom by the Sea for the Kings County leg on July 16, it held the contest at the man-made courts at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Heights, where the nation’s top bikini-clad athletes scooped and served next to a dog run and a condominium complex.

Zigun said he was outraged at the snub and suggested the story deserved front-page treatment. But ultimately, he said, it is really professional volleyball’s loss.

“Coney Island is so awesome that if they don’t come we won’t really miss them,” said Zigun, who is widely recognized as Coney Island’s unofficial mayor. “But they should still play down here anyway.”

The Association of Volleyball Professionals declined to comment on why it chose to host its tournament in a privately-run park instead of the People’s Playground.

For those who still want to see some hot sand-meets-spandex action on real Brooklyn dunes this summer — or to get in on it yourself — the parks department is hosting an amateur beach volleyball tournament and some learn-to-play classes in Coney Island on Aug. 8 and 9.

New York City Parks Beach Volleyball Tournament at Coney Island beach (near the Boardwalk and W. 10th Street in Coney Island, www.eventbrite.com/e/nyc-parks-beach-volleyball-tournament-2015-registration-17660406752). Aug. 8–9 from 8 am–5 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Happier days: A volleyball player dives to make a play in simpler times, when the pros played in Coney Island.

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