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AVP Tour, title bout coming to MontBleu

Steve Yingling

MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa is wasting no time testing the sports and entertainment market on the South Shore.

Like former owner Caesars Entertainment did often during the summer months in the early 1990s, MontBleu is moving boxing outdoors to the tennis courts adjacent to the health spa.

Bantamweight champion Rafael Marquez and brother Juan Manuel Marquez, a former featherweight titlist, will fight on a Showtime Championship Boxing doubleheader on Aug. 5 at the MontBleu Sports Pavilion.

“Both in entertainment and sports, MontBleu will have a very aggressive posture in trying to build a market, bringing folks up from the Bay Area, Reno and outlying areas,” said Paul Reder, president of PR Entertainment Inc., which provides all of the entertainment and sports for MontBleu and other Columbia Sussex properties.

Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield all fought in the outdoor arena at Caesars Tahoe more than a decade ago.

But boxing’s not all that MontBleu has in the works for the summer season.

MontBleu also is in the process of scheduling a mixed martial arts card for sometime in August.

And the middle of September promises to be an exciting time for area sports fans as well. For the first time since Heavenly Mountain Resort hosted a pro beach volleyball event in its parking lot in the 1990s, the beach volleyball tour is set to make a stop on the South Shore.

Top pro beach volleyball duos such as Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh will compete for the Best of the Beach title in the final stop of the 2006 AVP Crocs Tour Sept. 14-17 at MontBleu.

“It’s invitational only, a $200,000-plus purse and FOX Sports will be covering the event. We’ll have all of the champions for the year there,” Reder said.

Reder is certain that the final AVP Tour event of the season won’t lose any of the top names who might be looking for an early start on their offseason plans.

“With the exposure Misty May and Kerri Walsh have gotten from the AVP and Olympics, they’ll definitely be here,” Reder said. “It’s an opportunity for Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas to get close to outstanding athletes.”

AVP Commissioner Leonard Armato is thrilled about bringing his tour to a new location that has a history of embracing the sport.

“We are excited to bring the AVP Tour to Northern Nevada, especially the beautiful city of (South) Lake Tahoe,” Armato said. “We realize that the sport of volleyball is highly regarded in this area and we feel Lake Tahoe is the perfect setting to culminate a great season.”

The boxing venue will be able to accommodate slightly more that 4,000 spectators and beach volleyball a little more than 3,000 fans. Both seating structures will be temporary and only require several days to erect.

– Stacy Hamilton contributed to this story.

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