GULF SHORES — The Gulf Place Public Beach hosted the sixth NCAA Beach Volleyball National Championship tournament last week and set attendance records once again.
GULF SHORES — The Gulf Place Public Beach hosted the sixth NCAA Beach Volleyball National Championship tournament last week and set attendance records again.
The bracket-style competition with the top 16 teams in the country started last Wednesday and finished over the weekend. This year's three-day weekend attendance — 10,151 — set another record and marked a 6.99% increase compared to 2019's championship weekend according to Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events which co-hosted the event alongside the city of Gulf Shores and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Gulf Shores has hosted the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships since the sport became sanctioned by NCAA in 2016 but this was the first year the bracket expanded to host 16 teams. Still, the championship attendance has increased every year after it started at 5,915 in 2016.
The city had previously hosted the American Volleyball Coaches Association's College Sand Volleyball National Championship and the growth has been seen outside of attendance numbers as well.
The collegiate national championship tournament was run next door to a nearly 900-athlete junior tournament, the largest in the nation, said Michelle Russ, STS, vice president to sales, sports and events for Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events.
"We have continued to see the sport grow on multiple levels – junior, para, collegiate and adult," Russ said. "Adjacent to the NCAA championship site was the Gulf Coast Region of USA Volleyball 'BeachFest' national qualifier — the largest junior tournament in the country with nearly 900 athletes competing. Additionally, on the juniors' site, we hosted a USAV Para Beach Volleyball event for the first time along the Alabama Gulf Coast."
Gulf Shores is set to remain the host of the NCAA tournament through 2024 before it heads to Huntington Beach, California, the following two years.
"It's an honor to be the home of the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship since its inception in 2016, and this year was no exception," Russ said. "Student-athletes, coaches, families and fans were able to experience Alabama's beautiful beaches and explore the area off the sand."