Volume 3, Issue 12, The 116th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
Last week, I received word that my favorite tournament in the world was undergoing massive changes. The Festival of Bowling is no more. The tournament has gone back to its former name, the National Mixed Doubles Championships. While the name itself doesn't bother me (as they say, a rose by any other name is just as sweet), just about everything else does.
I know last year's participants were given surveys regarding what they wanted to see out of future Festival of Bowling/Mixed Doubles tournaments. I filled one out, and made sure that everyone in our group had the same opportunity. I just have to wonder if some of this year's changes have been totally thought through.
While in Reno last November, Festival of Bowling participants were told of a potential change in venue with Reno, Las Vegas, and Memphis competing for the honor of hosting the Festival, but NO mention of a change in dates was even hinted at. Most of us figured that the warmer Nevada cities were a lock in that regard. Tennessee is probably a nice place, but in the late fall, weather becomes a factor in attracting bowlers. But when the announcement came last week, the new tournament dates are July 6th through August 5th in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Castaways (formerly the Showboat), not exactly the most attractive weather conditions that the desert can offer.
Tournament bowlers who planned for FoB 2001 in October or November will not easily be able to adapt to such short notice, especially considering that ABC runs through June in Reno and many bowlers who don't qualify as professionals have to stagger their tournaments in order to budget for them and get the vacation time from their real jobs.
It's hardly scientific, but out of the nearly 25 bowlers we had go last year, and the many additional folks who were interested in joining up this year, we'll have trouble flooring one team of four bowlers. For that kind of response, I'd encourage most of my friends from across the country to skip this tournament, and turn their attention toward the Hoinke or other events where more of our group can get together.
And if ABC and WIBC felt that they could count on the West Coast to fill the event, I doubt it. Even the folks from the West Coast will be less likely to make this trip--starting with the 110 degree weather that is de riguer in July and August. A four-hour drive from SoCal is usually fine, but bowling balls don't survive in car trunks at those temperatures, so many people will be forced to add the expense of flying. As it occurs right after the High Roller, many people will be returning from Vegas after watching/bowling that event. I've already had several "no's" from folks who really wanted to go, but can't afford to go to Vegas two months in a row.
And quite honestly, there is nothing about the Showboat/Castaways that would draw people like the National Bowling Stadium. Part of the attraction of bowling in FoB was the fact that bowlers were competing in the premiere bowling venue in the world. Unfortunately, the Castaways is arguably the oldest bowling center in Las Vegas. If they had even managed to hold the event at some of the newer Las Vegas venues, like the Texas Station, you might even get a few of the curious. But even the PBA has broken ties with the 106-lane center, and in the end, it's just another bowling center.
I wish ABC and WIBC the best of luck with this event, because I'd hate to see it fold. Festival of Bowling was by far my favorite event of the year with less pressure than ABC, and as a mixed event it doesn't discriminate by gender like the WIBC tournament does. But with the rushed schedule for this year's event, I can't imagine getting enough publicity out to allow the event to succeed. Next time a major tournament is to undergo significant changes, I wish ABC and WIBC would kindly give the bowlers the benefit of the doubt and give them at least a year's notice, and not just three months.
BowlingFans.com Message Board Community: Discuss the move of this tournament to Las Vegas.