Toronto, Canada, September 15, 2016 - When Toronto residents approach Polson Pier, they will see the distinctive tents of Cirque Du Soleil.
Drive a little further and they will encounter a beach volleyball oasis built for the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals.
The impressive 4,500-seat stadium is built on the shore of the Toronto Harbor in an area that is considered “Toronto’s premier destination for sports and entertainment.” Center court features views of the Toronto skyline and the distinctive CN Tower.
“We toured a couple of venues, but when [Beach Majors CEO Hannes Jagerhofer] saw Polson Pier, he said the tournament had to be here,” said Ed Drakich, the FIVB Technical Supervisor in Toronto.
There is no sand to be found at Polson Pier for most of the year. Fortunately Hutcheson Sand, the official sand consulting firm of the FIVB, is headquartered about a 2.5 hour drive away. They are responsible for producing the sand that is used at the Olympic Games.
“It’s the best sand it the world,” Drakich said.
The players have been impressed by the quality of the sand at the venue.
Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg of Brazil in action at the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto
“The sand is perfect,” said Brazil’s Pedro Solberg. “Absolutely perfect.”
Added Germany’s Laura Ludwig, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist: “I didn’t notice the sand, and when I don’t notice the sand, that’s a good thing. That means there are no problems.”
Twenty-four of the world’s best teams are competing in Toronto, including both teams of Olympic champions. There is $500,000 of prize money on the line, including a $100,000 first-place prize.
The fans have showed up in large numbers, many waving country flags.
“The world’s best athletes are here in a spectacular venue with a great atmosphere,” Drakich said. “What more could you want?”
Just ask players about their experience in Toronto.
“I hope we have more matches in Canada,” said 2016 Olympic gold medalist Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil. “The fans are really good.”