Plans for U.S. Pro League Builds Momentum
LOS ANGELES (May 2, 2014) – Grand Prix Sports, a subsidiary of Grand Prix Entertainment (“Grand Prix”), continues to make plans and move forward toward the launch of its Grand Prix Volleyball League (VBL) with the support and sanctioning of USA Volleyball, the sport National Governing Body in the United States. The league, which is expected to begin no later than 2018, would re-introduce a professional indoor volleyball league in the United States.
On the heels of the 2012 Olympic Games, Grand Prix was awarded the sanction, license and global broadcast rights for professional men’s and women’s indoor volleyball in the United States by USA Volleyball. Since the August 2012 announcement, Grand Prix has been targeting interested partners and city franchises in major U.S. media markets, building the necessary brand and market foundation for the new professional league.
“There is no other top flight professional sports league, tour or team venture in the world that has as much opportunity for growth as volleyball and our VBL,” Grand Prix Chairman and Founder William Tatham said in reference to potential cities or franchisees getting involved with the VBL.
“Why buy a Grand Prix franchise? We’ve been involved in the start-up and /or franchise operations of the WFL, NBA and USFL,” Tatham said. “Unlike those old model leagues, our Grand Prix leagues are backed by exclusive competitive advantages and other unique protections. The VBL is built on Grand Prix’s sound business tour-to-league model platform, and does so with the sport’s national governing body as an integral supporter. Besides, when was the last time founding franchises were available to the public in converted territories such as media giants New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles?”
“USA Volleyball is committed to the development of professional volleyball in the United States,” USA Volleyball CEO Doug Beal said. “We are excited about the concepts that Grand Prix has proposed to enhance the fan experience, new media opportunities and other innovations within the sport. USA Volleyball is eager to play our part in this venture and look forward to cooperating with Grand Prix on developing a sustainable professional volleyball platform here in the United States.”
Former President of MGM Worldwide Television Gary Marenzi, the architect of Grand Prix’s media strategy, stated, “The VBL has a blank canvas on which to create two ‘made for television ratings’ leagues and we intend on doing just that.” Based on this mandate, the VBL will initially target the following 16 major U.S. media markets for both the men and women’s leagues (see graphic):
Tatham emphasized Grand Prix’s commitment to the exciting women’s game.
“What is so compelling to me is that we believe women’s indoor volleyball will be America’s first truly successful women’s professional team sport,” Tatham said. “The VBL has the team, the tools and every intention of proving exactly that, treating the two leagues equally both on the court and at the pay window.”
“Having a professional volleyball league in the United States is a highly anticipated initiative by most other national federations around the world, as well as the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB),” Beal said. “Many would certainly agree that indoor volleyball will be the next worldwide sport to have a professional presence in the USA We are the only major world commercial location lacking a professional league. The sports growth and expansion seem to dictate that the timing is right to change that situation.”
The sport of volleyball, founded in the United States by William G. Morgan in 1895, is enormously popular in the U.S. within the youth, high school and collegiate levels. USA Volleyball’s membership has almost doubled over the past 15 years to 300,000 members. There are over 1,000 four-year college programs offering varsity volleyball programs for women. Fans support the collegiate product with approximately 50 NCAA colleges averaging 1,000 fans per match on an annual basis, including 20 with over 2,000 average attendance. However, few options exist for adults and elite players to continue playing volleyball after college in the United States.
Without a professional indoor volleyball league in the United States, USA Volleyball processes nearly 350 international transfer certificates annually for American athletes to play in professional volleyball leagues overseas in countries such as Italy, Russia, Poland, France, Japan, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland and many others. In the 2013-14 professional season, American women were competing in 33 countries with professional leagues while American men were in 27 different countries.
“We have so much talent going abroad, it is only natural to want our game to be showcased here in the United States in a professional setting as it is elsewhere around the globe,” Beal said. “With so many of our athletes competing in almost 50 different pro leagues in other countries each year, USA Volleyball has long worked for the day when America’s professional sports market re-awakens to our great indoor game and recognizes the talent of these players. Volleyball has enjoyed incredible growth over the years, along with success at the Olympic Games and other world events. The creation of a professional indoor volleyball league is the next piece of the puzzle to growing the game and its popularity.”
For information concerning VBL franchise opportunities, contact VBL League Counsel Frank Grant of Perkins Coie LLP, at:
Frank Grant, Esq. | Perkins Coie LLP • 1888 Century Park East, Suite 1700, Los Angeles, CA 90067
PHONE: 310-788-9900 x3244 | DIRECT: 310-788-3244
E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.perkinscoie.com/fgrant
About Grand Prix Entertainment: Grand Prix Entertainment is a diversified multimedia production and distribution company that owns and manages sports, entertainment and gaming properties. Visit GrandPrixEntertainment.com.
About USA Volleyball: Founded in 1928, USA Volleyball is a Colorado incorporated non-profit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) as the National Governing Body for the sport of Volleyball in the United States. USA Volleyball is responsible for both the Olympic disciplines of indoor volleyball and beach volleyball, as well as the Paralympic discipline of sitting volleyball. USA Volleyball has over 300,000 registered members, 12,000 teams and 5,300 clubs nationwide. With an annual budget in excess of $25 million dollars, USA Volleyball supports the USA men's and women's senior national team programs for indoor and beach volleyball, youth and junior national teams, national championship events, coaching education and certification programs, grassroots development, and programs for the disabled and Paralympic Teams. USA Volleyball has a rich tradition of success as evidenced by winning an Olympic medal in every Olympic Games since 1984 and capturing numerous World Cup, World Championship and Continental Championship titles. USA Volleyball is committed to and works toward opportunity for all to participate. It is an advocate for all Americans endeavoring to assure universal access to opportunities at all levels of the game. For more information please visit usavolleyball.org.