With Kansas City’s downtown skyline in the background, the count of “one, two, three” by volleyball players took over a corner of Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park each time their opponent hit the ball Sunday afternoon.
Cheers or groans would soon follow, depending on whether errant hits sent balls astray or well-spiked balls remained in bounds.
The competitive sounds are new for the park and will soon occur regularly. Sunday was the grand opening for six sand volleyball courts built at Berkley Riverfront Park.
“It’s an ideal location just being on the river,” said Luke Wade, founder of KC Crew, which operates recreational sports leagues in Kansas City. “The views down here are amazing and there’s more room for parking.”
KC Crew partnered with Port KC to build the courts to address a growing demand for sports courts and green space in the downtown Kansas City area. The demand is fueled in part by an influx of millennial residents.
“With the growth of downtown, people are looking for more areas to play, so we are excited to offer this to them,” Wade said. Port KC funded the $200,000 project, which includes two kickball fields at the east end of the park.
Volleyball player Michael Pineda has been playing in league for several years.
“In 2013, I started playing sand volleyball and all they had was one court,” Pineda said. “For them to grow into six courts now is pretty impressive … Having a central place for volleyball is a lot of fun.”
KC Crew will move all of its sand volleyball leagues to the riverfront at the end of August, Wade said. Leagues currently play Sunday through Thursday, with eight to 14 teams playing each night.
“This will actually allow us to expand up to 48 teams a night,” Wade said. “So this will really help us grow.”
The new sand is really nice to play on, said Theresa O’Leary of the Sandy Clams team.
“I like it because it’s something to compete in,” O’Leary said. “It’s really fun, honestly, coming out every week and being outside.”