• Promoters want to make Leesburg second-largest beach volleyball site in Fla.


    LEESBURG, Fla. - Channel 9's Berndt Petersen has learned landlocked Leesburg could become the state's hottest spot for beach volleyball.

    A group that promotes major college and Olympic-level tournaments has its eye on land in a city park, and the city is apparently interested in the promised payoff.

    Ski Beach on Lake Harris could soon be hosting two big tournaments a month, which could bring in major money to local businesses.

    "I've lived here my entire life in this neighborhood. I've never seen this area used for anything," said resident Alisha Hoffman.

    Hoffman believes volleyball is the answer.

    Steve Bishop heads the Florida region of USA Volleyball, a nonprofit with big plans to bring major tournaments to the city.

    "The misnomer that you have to be on a coast to play beach volleyball is exactly that," said Bishop.

    There are three volleyball courts on Ski Beach, but Bishop wants to spread out and build 16 courts.

    That would make it the second-largest beach volleyball venue in the state. The project could cost more than $150,000 to build, and the group would go after a grant from the Lake County commission.

    City officials are interested because each tournament could attract more than 1,000 people.

    "It could be somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $175,000 worth of positive economic impact on an annual basis," said Bishop.

    Though some of the homeowners who like their view and their peace and quiet are opposed to the idea, Hoffman sees the bright side.

    "I think sacrificing a day or two in a month for the city to bring in a lot more money is a great idea," said Hoffman.

    Promoters will meet with local homeowners on Friday. Leesburg City Commission will discuss the idea on Monday, and next month, the Lake County Commission will decide whether to give up the grant money to build it.

    Tournaments could start in July.

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    Promoters want to make Leesburg second-largest beach volleyball site in Fla.