Coastal Carolina University is looking forward to joining the nearly 50 other universities that offer NCAA women’s beach volleyball – if Myrtle Beach is able to build their home court.
The Myrtle Beach City Council is expected to discuss a way to fund the construction of the $263,000 facility that would hold nine sand volleyball courts and 230 parking spaces at Pebble Beach, just south of Damon’s Grill on South Ocean Boulevard on vacant, oceanfront land.
If the city chooses to construct the facility, Coastal plans to begin the process to add a varsity women’s beach volleyball team to the sports offered at the school.
Coastal already has a varsity women’s indoor volleyball team and Hunter Yurachek, director of athletics at CCU, said many of the athletes would play for both teams.
“We have a volleyball team that plays in the fall in the HTC Center,” he said during a City Council workshop on Tuesday. “There would be no additional scholarships [needed]. We’d use the same coaches.”
Yurachek, who is leaving CCU Friday for a job at the University of Houston, said there’s a process to follow when bringing a new sport to campus.
“We’ll have to survey our students to gather their interest,” he said. “A formal proposal, that would include a budget and implementation, could hopefully be taken to the board [of trustees] in May.”
Cari Rosiek, associate athletics director at Coastal, said adding the sport would help the school meet Title IX requirements. There are 18 varsity teams on campus – 10 women’s teams and eight men’s teams.
“We’re not where we need to be from a Title IX standpoint,” Yurachek said. “But with football, when you have a team with 115 people on it, it’s hard to meet the requirements.”
Not only would the facility be used for college matches and tournaments, it could be used for traveling events, charity events, youth and adult tournaments and other recreational uses, said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
“By the numbers, it’s really as big as boys basketball is,” Dean said. “Volleyball itself is a growing sport. And this is sort of an offseason sport. … We really see this season as being March through October.”
Dean said the direct economic return is not as high as some other sports offered in Myrtle Beach, though a formal economic analysis has not yet been done.
“If the city is willing to invest in this facility it will give us the opportunity to go after some publicity-generating events,” Dean said.
Council members said they liked the idea and would look at the budget during their retreat in April to determine how to fund the project.
“$263,000 is a nominal amount of money, in my opinion, when you consider we spend that on sidewalks each year,” Councilman Wayne Gray said. “We could defer that a year, which we’ve done in the past when a project came up.”
Steve Taylor – president and owner of Native Sons, which hosts the Salt Games on the beach – told City Council he thought the project was a “worthy endeavor.” He said the city should consider also offering showers, lockers and concessions at the facility.
“I know that it’s another expense but if you’re going to do this, you should do it right,” he said.
Rosiek said most beach volleyball facilities only offer three courts.
“It would be the only place in the United States that had this setup,” she said.
City Council’s annual budget retreat is scheduled for April 27 to 29 in Pinopolis.
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.