SALT LAKE CITY -- Pro beach volleyball is coming to the Wasatch Front in August.
The Association of Volleyball Professionals Pro Beach Volleyball Tour made it official on Wednesday, announcing that its 2013 tour will begin with a tournament in Salt Lake City.
The announcement was made at a press conference at Liberty Park, where the tournament will be staged on Aug. 16-18. AVP star Jake Gibb, a Bountiful native and two-time U.S. Olympian, helped make the announcement.
"This is going to be really exciting for me," said Gibb, a University of Utah graduate. "I've been fortunate enough to play beach volleyball in some amazing places across the United States and around the world, but getting to play so close to home and just down the street from where I went to school will be a career highlight for me."
Gibbs has won 19 beach volleyball tournaments worldwide.
The AVP season-opener will feature a field of 16 two-player men's teams and 16 two-player women's teams.
August's tournament will bring the best of the beach to Salt Lake City. AVP tournaments combine the fast-paced action of the world's fittest male and female athletes jumping, spiking and diving in the sand with a world-class beach-party atmosphere complete with great food, music and a sponsor village filled with fun activities.
Gibb will be joined by playing partner Casey Patterson (a BYU product), Olympic gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, Olympic silver medalists Jen Kessy and April Ross, and Olympian Nicole Branagh.
"We've been working very hard to put together the best possible tour for 2013, and we're eager to bring the very best competitions to cities that wish to embrace the sport as real partner," said Dick Carle, the AVP's chairman. "We're extremely appreciative of all the great people who have helped us bring this event to Salt Lake City, which we know is a community that is passionate about volleyball."
Added Frank Tusieseina, the locally based tournament director for the Salt Lake City event, "We are thrilled to be partnering with the AVP to bring beach volleyball to Salt Lake City. We're going to transform Liberty Park into the epicenter of beach culture for three days in August, and it will be an event you don't want to miss."
The AVP also announced Wednesday that it will hold an open qualifying tournament Aug. 14 and 15 at The Sports Mall/Wasatch Beach, with two teams per gender earning spots to play in the AVP's Salt Lake Open main draw.
The single-elimination qualifier is open to all players, and information on registration will be available soon at www.AVP.com.
Tickets for the tournament will go on sale June 15. The men's and women's finals will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, AVP's return to television for the first time since 2010. Earlier matches will be shown on AVP.com via CBS Interactive.