In the last 24 hours, news broke of a new Inner Harbor Master Plan, Inner Harbor 2.0, which includes the redevelopment of Rash Field. As always when new plans are presented for Rash Field, the first concern that takes over social media and the comment sections of articles is the future of Baltimore Beach Volleyball, which makes its home at the Inner Harbor park.
Baltimore Beach Volleyball, a popular South Baltimore staple over last 12 years with more than 2,000 weekly participants, has consistently seen its future in limbo as different ideas have been presented for Rash Field over the years. For each of the last 12 years it has been given a one-year agreement for use of the park. Previously a garage was to be built on the site, with the park to be reconstructed above, but that plan never came to fruition. And in the recent years the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) has floated ideas for a redevelopment of the park, focused more around green spaces and gathering spaces.
As big ideas have been revealed for Rash Field once again in the Inner Harbor 2.0 plan, the city and Todd Webster, president of Baltimore Beach, are working together so that beach volleyball will seamlessly continue in Baltimore City. Whether or not the future of Rash Field will include volleyball has not been decided, we do know that a redevelopment would eliminate beach volleyball at the Inner Harbor for at least a a season or two.
Baltimore Beach will have its 2014 season at Rash Field, but Webster is looking for a seamless transition into their next home, whether it is temporary or permanent, so that its players and staff won’t be completely unfamiliar with the venue. Webster is working with Recreation and Parks and city officials to secure that location before the end of the year. Webster would not confirm the location they are eyeing, but all indications around the community point to Swann Park which already has the lighting and parking infrastructure to support the large number of participants.
“We have a pent up demand for volleyball,” said Webster. Baltimore Beach runs leagues six nights a week, only taking off Saturday nights for staff, as well as hosting open play on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. It has also begun a youth program working hand-in-hand with the Chesapeake Youth Volleyball Association (CYVA), a subsidiary of USA Volleyball. Baltimore Beach has also hosted many professional tour events in recent years with the National Volleyball League (NVL), and has hosted clinics and tournaments for local players of all ages and skill levels.
Webster is open to Baltimore Beach’s temporary home becoming a second permanent home as demand continues to increase for volleyball, but is focused on returning to Rash Field. “I will encourage and support any plans for the Inner Harbor that include Baltimore Beach,” said Webster. “If anything, we have shown there is a great demand for volleyball in Baltimore.”
Update: SouthBMore.com confirmed that Swann Park is the site being eyed. Here is a statement to SouthBMore.com from Councilman William Cole:
“Baltimore Beach has been offered a new home at Swann Park. The Department of Recreation and Parks has laid out 7 courts that lead to the water’s edge with the possibility of a stand-alone “championship court” at the park entrance. Todd Webster of Baltimore Beach is reviewing the relocation plans and will be working directly with Recreation and Parks on creating the optimal layout.
Swann Park has key elements including parking, bathroom facilities, and the possibility of showers and concessions. Lease length and terms haven’t been discussed yet, but this move would allow Todd and Baltimore Beach to have a fixed address in South Baltimore.”