Cue the clever team names, wacky costumes, and pun-filled signs: the Over-the-Line Tournament is back, once again taking over San Diego’s Fiesta Island for two back-to-back weekends of summertime merrymaking.
The tourney – commonly abbreviated "OTL" by San Diegans – is a local tradition running 66 years strong, held for two weekends every July on the sand overlooking Mission Bay.
Hosted by the Old Mission Bay Athletic Club (OMBAC), the annual tournament typically gathers approximately 1,200 teams from around the world to play Over-the-Line, a bat and ball sport first played in Mission Beach in the mid-1950s.
"This is the 66th year, we've been out at Fiesta Island the past 40 years," Brad Pagano, vice president of OMBAC, told NBC 7 Saturday. “It started in south mission as a way to pass the time and play volleyball."
In the past, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has called OTL "a part of the fabric of San Diego."
The rules of the game are simple: games last three or four innings, no one has to run bases and the main goal is to hit the ball “over the line” about 55 feet in front of the batter. Teams dress up in costumes and bring tents, chairs, beer and hilarious signs to the beach for the carefree, daytime, adults-only tournament.
This time, the World Championship OTL takes place Saturday and Sunday, and again on July 20 and July 21. Play begins at 7:30 a.m. sharp each day.
To participate in the tournament, teams must already have registered. That registration happens each year in May. If you missed that deadline, plan accordingly next year and just sit back and enjoy the show alongside the other spectators this time around.
OTL viewing is open to the public and typically attracts a lot of spectators. There is no ticket or entrance fee to watch the games and enjoy the tournament, though organizers say several rules will be strictly enforced, including no bottles on the beach. Also, no bicycles, dogs, and kids are allowed at the tournament. People are permitted to bring their own alcohol, so long as the rules are followed.
Brad Pagano, vice president of OMBAC, told NBC 7 Saturday the alcohol consumption at OTL is controlled, and event organizers work closely with the San Diego Police Department each year to keep things orderly at Fiesta Island.
"Really, the alcohol situation is, you come out here – 21 and over – and consume and be responsible, there will be no problem," he explained.
OTL is perhaps best known for having teams with colorful, funny names. That list of teams is usually posted online so fans can pick their favorite and cheer them on from the sand.
Pagano told NBC 7 that many of this year’s colorful OTL names include a nod to embattled New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Many times, the teams are inspired by events or public figures making headlines.
"In years past, there have been mean names about Dean Spanos – when he took the Chargers out," he said.
By the way, Fiesta Island gets packed for OTL and parking will be at a premium.
Parking for OTL will be available at three locations this year: Friars Road, beneath the Morena Boulevard overpass, at the Linda Vista trolley stop parking lot; the Bonita Cove parking lot on West Mission Bay Drive, across from the Bahia Hotel; the parking lot on the north corner of Fiesta Island and East Mission Bay drives at the entrance to Fiesta Island.
Organizers say a free shuttle will pick up OTL attendees from these lots and drop them off near the southwest corner of the playing area at Fiesta Island starting at 6:30 a.m. this Saturday and Sunday. The shuttle buses return on July 20 but will not be running on July 21. The shuttle pick-ups stop at 3 p.m. each day that they run. More info on the shuttle service can be found here.
OTL fans and players could also use a ride-share service to get to the tourney or could pay $30 for a designated OMBAC parking pass, which secures a spot in a designated parking area on Fiesta Island.