As Baltimore Plans a Rash Field Redevelopment, Baltimore Beach Volleyball Prepares for Its Future

| November 13, 2013 | 4 Comments

204394_193986077311295_172826909427212_512381_5703605_oIn 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.”

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About the Author:

Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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  • Jose

    This consistent threat of a move is getting old amongst South Baltimore locals. Baltimore Beach makes Baltimore’s harbor one of the most unique in the nation. Every time I take guests visiting from other cities to the harbor, they remark how the volleyball courts are aesthetically pleasing and give a unique flavor to Baltimore’s harbor. Baltimore Beach gives tourists and locals something to go down to the harbor to watch on a DAILY basis, unlike any other attraction can do. Adding more green or a new park will not help bring businesses and patrons to the area when the real problem is crime in the downtown area, which is growing in the past year with recent cell phone violence. Spiking Baltimore Beach down to lonely Swann Park will be harmful to both the City and Baltimore Beach. Keep the mutually beneficial relationship between the harbor and Baltimore Beach, give them a contract to promote long term growth and development around the site, and do something with the much larger, uglier area that surrounds the sand courts. Don’t get rid of your biggest asset, councilman. Yet another blunder by Baltimore.

  • Aaron Mirenzi

    They need to be making the harbor a place for tourists and residents alike to come visit. The courts are a reason for residents to come visit the harbor. It would be a reason for people to move to the city, instead of visiting it.

  • LP

    While I agree that the location of Baltimore Beach Volleyball should stay put, Swann Park is the next best location. The transition could bring much needed attention to the under-utilized area. The waterfront could get public dollars to clean up all the waste and trash along the shore. It is a sad scene right now. Further, with more foot traffic, it may be a near-future possibility for aesthetic upgrades to the side walks and roads south of 1800 block of Hanover and down McComas Street.

    Swann Park is a great space – right on the water!- and will be more appreciated by the south end of the neighborhood if it was a nicer walk and people were actually there. It would be an asset to ‘connect’ the park with the neighborhood. Digital High sports programs could also benefit with concession stands and well kept facilities/bathrooms.

  • SoBo Guy

    As a Fed Hill resident, the only reason I ever visit the Inner Harbor other than a special event is for volleyball. Now, I guess there will be no reason for city residents to visit the Harbor. Just cheesy tourist traps like the Guinness World Records Museum and suburban restaurant chains like Cheesecake Factory.

    I remember playing pickup volleyball one Saturday with an out-of-towner and he was amazed at how cool it was to play right on the harbor. Visitors won’t be saying that anymore, since now it will just be an “open lawn”, which is hardly impressive. What a waste.

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