Men's competition, Stavanger
From 1 July To 4 July 2004

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ConocoPhillips Open Features Vaagen Harbour Uniqueness
STAVANGER, NORWAY, July 1, 2004 - The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour has been played on some of the most spectacular beaches on the planet, but the pier setting for this week's US$360,000 ConocoPhillips Open on Vaagen Harbour provides the most unique venue in the world.

As unique as venues in the United States like Fenway Park for baseball and Lambeau Field for football, the man-made Beach Volleyball courts in Vaagen Harbour brings the world's best men's and women's to this southwestern Norwegian port city for the sixth-straight year."

"What started as a gathering for our families and friends has turned into a big event for our country," said two-time Norwegian Beach Volleyball Olympian Bjorn Maaseide. "No where on the tour does a community come together like this one. We have good crowds throughout the week despite the weather."

A total of six competition and three practice courts have been constructed from 3.7 tons of sand brought from the fjords along the Norwegian coast. The Vaagen Harbour centre court features more than 3,500 seats along with a daily docking by a cruise ship next to the action, including a visit by the Queen Elizabeth 2 Wednesday.

"The centre court was designed and built to give all the spectators the best possible views of the action," Maaseide added. "Everyone is close to the court. This closeness creates a loud atmosphere and provides excellent television coverage for both the action and the harbour. I don't think there is any venue in the world that is more unique than ours."

From the press box seating for the media to the chair back endzone seating for VIPs and the club level restaurant and lounge, the Vaagen Harbour centre count is only part of the annual Stavanger scene. The outside courts are built next to shops, restaurants and bars where more than 150,000 will witness the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour action this weekend.

"I am amazed about our success so far," Maaseide continued. "We thought we would be able to stage good events, but everything has exceeded our initial expectations. The unpredictable weather adds to the uniqueness as the players need to be prepared for every possible condition when they step onto the sand."

Noted for its fjords, mountains and a multicultural population, 4-million Norwegians are proud of their international Beach Volleyball event. The fans travel from all parts of the country to the oil capital of Norway to create a special atmosphere the city where the motto is simply to "enjoy life!"

The first three ConocoPhillips Open featured men's play only. Women's play was added to the competition format in 2002. "With all the best players in the world competing here each year, we are quickly becoming part of the Norwegian way of life," Maaseide conclude. "We are unique and unpredictable. I think that is why the fans keep coming back each year."