Beach volleyball has come to Tucson — just minus the beach.
White sand, 1,250 tons of it, was shipped from a rock quarry in Southern California, according to Steve Walker, the head coach of the new sand volleyball team at the University of Arizona. This marks the 20th sport for Arizona Athletics.
It is from a mineral deposit that is “not directly from the beach, but best simulates the sand you would find on the beach,” Walker said.
The four sand courts are on the university’s old football practice field south of the McKale ticket office. March 7th was opening weekend for the team’s first season.
Bringing outside sand to the desert wasn’t cheap. The haul of white sand cost approximately $45,000, and was an additional $35,000 to ship, according to Suzy Mason, senior associate director of athletics, event management.
The brand of the sand is Pro Style Court, and Walker explained that the lighter tint retains less heat. This is the main reason for not getting cheaper sand from a place that has an abundance of it, the Sonoran Desert around Tucson. Arizona sand is very sharp and can be dusty and a bit darker.
“The heat factor was a concern,” Mason said. Pro Style sand is low-dust, resists compaction, and matches most Pacific Ocean deposits, she said..
D&D Materials is a locally owned and operated landscaping business that has been in business in Tucson for 50 years. Bruce Stevens, a long time employee, said even local sand is getting more expensive, rising to roughly $24 a ton in Tucson. But this would still be $15,000 less than the California sand — and his estimate includes delivery.
Arizona sand is a littler looser and sand from California would sit tighter, Stevens said. “All our volleyball sand is run through a plant and washed many times on top of that so it comes out pure sand. We get our sand locally from washes,” Stevens said, referring to southern Arizona volleyball sand that is delivered to various venues around town, including bars and county clubs.
The upkeep of the Pro Style sand is easier since it doesn’t hollow out. “Every other day a crew of players rake the court so it doesn’t get dug out,” said Walker.
Madi Kingdon, who plays on the university team, said she prefers the California sand to the sand at places such as Tucson Racket Club, “There, the sand is gritty and hurts your feet. Our court sand lets your feet sink into it,” Kingdon said.
Future plans for the volleyball complex include, a concession area, restrooms, a grandstand with Ramada for fans and a fifth court, Mason said.