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      August 07, 2001:

-BPAA Responds To PWBA's Public Position On Bowling's 2001 U.S. Open

08/07/2001 - BPAA
      ARLINGTON, Texas - In response to the Professional Women's Bowling Association's (PWBA) recent announced decision to "sidestep" participation in Bowling's 2001 Women's U. S. Open and the incomplete information that has been communicated to date regarding this matter by all parties, the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA) is releasing the following response to any claim that BPAA has acted in an unfair or discriminatory fashion and that BPAA does not support women sports.

      The following highlights should provide an overview of BPAA's position and how BPAA has addressed each of the issues previously raised:
  • While BPAA has conducted the men's and women's U. S. Open for many years with varying financial results, BPAA's board of directors decided in 2001 that any projected losses for the 2001 Open should not exceed certain levels, to allow BPAA funds to be spent on other BPAA member projects and benefits, including the broad range of industry marketing programs approved by the BPAA board and its members.

  • At all times, BPAA has guaranteed equal prize fund amounts of $187,500 to both men and women for the 2001 U. S. Open.

  • The PBA, in an attempt to raise the image of bowling, requested to increase the men's prize fund to $350,000 and to take on the full responsibility for the entire $350,000. BPAA agreed to this PBA proposal.

  • The PWBA and its associated organizations have subsequently taken the position that, because men will be competing for $350,000 in prize funds at Bowling's U. S. Open regardless of their source, that BPAA needs to increase (at BPAA's effort and/or expense) the prize fund for women to $350,000. BPAA's position is that its guarantee of $187,500 - equal to the Women's U. S. Open prize fund for 1998, 1999 and 2000 and to what had been committed to and agreed to by all parties - is both equitable and fair.

  • With respect to claims that BPAA is denying television coverage to the PWBA, BPAA has offered, continuously and in several different forums, to work with the PWBA regarding ensuring television coverage for the Women's U.S. Open. To date, the PWBA has not provided BPAA with any specific proposal to review, although it is BPAA's understanding that a specific time period is currently available and has been preliminarily offered to the PWBA. BPAA remains confident that an equitable television arrangement can be achieved by all parties.

  • The $187,500 in prize funds for women would be, by a large margin, the largest prize fund for a women's professional tournament for 2001. This alone would not be a determining factor, but it is also equal to what BPAA offered to male bowlers prior to the PBA taking over that responsibility.

  • In its press announcement, the PWBA refers to the U.S. Open several times as a "co-ed" event. This implies that men and women are competing in the same event. In fact, there are two separate events, each of which is being held in the same venue over the same days. There is no combined or "co-ed" competition according to any standard definition of "co-ed."

  • BPAA does embrace "gender equity" in bowling. BPAA is very aware that half of its members' customers are women and BPAA both respects and appreciates that fact. BPAA does not believe, however, that its position on this issue contradicts accepted principles of gender equity which provide for equal access and equal opportunity as both men and women have been treated exactly equally by BPAA with respect to U.S. Open prize money. The issue has resulted because one group (the PBA) decided to, unilaterally, provide an increased prize fund.

  • Bowling's 2001 U. S. Open for both men and women will be held December 1 - 9, 2001 at Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, Calif.

      "We at BPAA are concerned that we have been portrayed as opposing equal rights and opportunities for both men and women and believe that a review and an understanding of all of the facts surrounding this issue will lead other members of the broad bowling community to the conclusion that we have acted appropriately," stated Jack Kelly, BPAA CEO. "We are particularly hopeful that we can reestablish dialogue with our PWBA colleagues so that the best women bowlers in the world will be able to compete in this year's event."

      Additional Information is available online at www.bowlingsusopen.com or by contacting BPAA's Director of Tournaments Rick Ramsey at 817-649-5105.



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-BPAA Releases Internal Memorandums On PWBA's Boycott of the US Open

08/07/2001 - BPAA
      In a letter to the media today the Bowling Proprietors Association of America disclosed the following internal memorandums to support their feeling that that many facts may have been misrepresented or even omitted and that every opportunity was given to the PWBA to achieve an amicable outcome.


BPAA MEMORANDUM
___________________________________________________________
July 31, 2001
To: PWBA Players Association
From: Jack Kelly, CEO, Bowling Proprietors' Association of America


We have received from John Sommer your brief faxed memo (copy attached) to me regarding your expressed "final position" requirements for participation in the 2001 U.S. Open (i.e. equal prize money and equal television coverage). We respect your concern about issues of gender equality and fairness and that, individually and collectively, you may need to make important personal and organizational decisions that respond to your understandings and perceptions about the circumstances that exist with respect to BPAA's commitments for the 2001 Bowling's U.S. Open.

I want to be very clear that, while we very much respect the decisions you may need to make, we also believe at BPAA that the facts and issues may have not been fully explained and discussed in an appropriate forum. To respond to this circumstance, I want to provide the following to you for your consideration.

Regardless of what may be understood, or may have been presented to you, I want to be very clear and emphatic that the options presented to women (in effect, the PWBA), for Bowling's 2001 U.S. Open are exactly the same choices as have been presented relative to the men's portion of the event. There are no differences, in either verbiage or value, in what has been presented to both men and women.

Leading up to and following the early 2001 AMF decision not to renew their sponsorship of the U.S. Open, the BPAA, at every opportunity when we were asked about our intentions for 2001, responded that "we would again guarantee prize money of $187,500 for both men and women". Contrary to what has been presented in some forums, this was not a guarantee of "equal" prize money under any and all circumstances but was a commitment that we would guarantee the same amount of $187,500 in prize money to both women and men, regardless of whether we found a sponsor equivalent to AMF's 1999-2000 contributions of around $400,000 each year in cash.

As you know, television for the U.S. Open has been secured from different sources over they years - in many years through the PWBA and its relationships. For 2001, the PBA offered to include the Open as part of its fall television package on December 9, 2001. Shortly after, the PBA announced that it was increasing prize money for all events, but wanted to do so particularly for the 4 "majors," among which they wanted to include the U.S. Open. They proposed prize money for men at the Open of $350,000 and postulated a significantly increased television production cost of up to $90,000 for each broadcast.

During our subsequent conversations with them, we indicated that BPAA was still only in a position to put $187,500 into the men's event (with the PBA's provision of the television). The PBA leadership indicated that they wanted to "elevate" the broadcast and would come back to us with a specific proposal. At this point, I advised the PWBA leadership of this possible new direction and that I would keep them further advised of any changes. I was told then by the PWBA leaders that I "should not allow the PBA to increase prize money - It is BPAA's event and you can do what you'd like to do." I then indicated that BPAA did not agree that restraining this opportunity to elevate prize money was good for BPAA, the PBA, the PWBA or the sport in general.

Shortly thereafter, the PBA proposed to BPAA that the PBA be able to "license" the rights to the men's U.S. Open for 2001 and beyond, with some differences for 2001 to accommodate decisions and agreements already made by BPAA with the selected host center, Fountain Bowl. In return for this license, the PBA would take on the responsibility for paying all of the "new" $350,000 prize money and would take on all television rights and payment responsibilities - a total commitment and investment of $450-500,000. They agreed to reduce this to writing for BPAA's subsequent review. At this point, the BPAA board met and agreed to pursue this direction, provided that certain guarantees could be provided to BPAA.

We again contacted the PWBA leadership and provided them with an outline of the expressed PBA proposal. Again, we were requested not to "allow" this. We indicated that we did not agree that this was in bowling's (or BPAA's) interest and that the PBA license proposal met BPAA's current requirements to reduce BPAA financial risk, addressed the challenges to BPAA from the current sponsorship marketplace and preserved BPAA's long-term interests and ownership.

At that time, the PWBA leadership asked me what I intended for the "women's" U.S. Open. I indicated that we would reaffirm our commitment to the $187,500 prize fund. I indicated further that we did not regard the PBA's decision to license the men's event to and to pay from their funds a larger prize fund of $350,000 to men as committing BPAA to provide any larger guarantee to the women's portion of the event. I also indicated that the extent of television coverage for women would depend on the PWBA's ability to line up coverage but that BPAA would work with them to the extent that we could do so in this area. When asked how much, if any, support that BPAA could come up with, I again reminded them that our board has given me an overall financial results target (the Open will, in fact, result in a deficit to BPAA, as a result of our $187,500 guarantee, of up to $100,000). I indicated that, if our local and regional sponsorship efforts could keep our deficit under that level, I could potentially have some money to assist in the television effort but that this was an ongoing effort with a moving target and that I could not guarantee at this time any specific amount of television support. When then asked if we could collectively use BPAA funds to help acquire television time, I indicated that very likely we could but that, if necessary to keep our deficit at a level required by our board, I may have to reduce the $187,500 prize fund by an amount equal to the amount of the funds advanced. This concept and its details were very clear to all parties and were discussed at length several times.

Our participation in all of the discussions with the various parties subsequent to that time over the past 2-3 weeks have only served to provide opportunities to reaffirm these positions.

To summarize, the guarantees and choices provided to the PBA on behalf of the men's U.S. Open were:

1. To utilize the BPAA prize fund guarantee of $187,500, allow BPAA to select the venue, manage the event, etc. and for the PBA to provide television for the event.

2. If the PBA wanted a different prize fund and/or television arrangement, they could do so by licensing the men's event from the BPAA, taking on most event management responsibilities, taking on all responsibilities to fund all of the prize money and taking on all of the television rights and responsibilities.

These are exactly the same chances as have been and continue to be provided to the PWBA on behalf of women bowlers for the 2001 U.S. Open. There is, in fact, a true equality of choice and the fact of the PBA providing enhanced prize funds and television at their cost and risk should be reviewed in that light. At present, the same two-part choice is available for the "women's" U.S. Open, as follows:

  • License from the BPAA the 2001 women's U.S. Open with all funding responsibilities (at whatever prize fund the PWBA and any partners would choose to pay), all television rights and responsibilities and most event management responsibilities. BPAA involvement would be oversight only - there would be no BPAA funding.

    Or, as has been committed to continuously,

  • For BPAA to provide its guarantee of $187,500 of prize money for women for the U.S. Open, for BPAA to provide all of the event management costs and for the PWBA to take on television responsibilities, potentially offset in part by the BPAA to the extent we can manage our deficit to an acceptable level.

Without overemphasizing it, these are the same two options which were available to the PBA for the men's U.S. Open. The fact of their choice of a specific option does not mandate that BPAA provide to women competitors the same results of the PBA choice (as the PBA has also accepted substantial risk) - only that we provide an equal choice to both groups.

Obviously, there is another choice for individual bowlers - the option not to compete. This is clearly an option for individual bowlers at any time for any event but we believe that this choice should not be made due to any sense of unequal treatment as the facts do not support that position. I would also point out that, if the women's portion of the U.S. Open is not the subject of any license agreement, BPAA has continued and will continue to plan and conduct a women's U.S. Open to be held at Fountain Bowl December 1-9, 2001, with a prize fund of $187,500 and to crown a women's champion on December 9, 2001. The type of television coverage will depend on how circumstances develop in the interim. We are hopeful that all of the best bowlers of both genders will decide to participate and, to that end, we will be working aggressively to fill both the men's and women's fields for the event at the earliest time.

We would also like to emphasize that BPAA and our member proprietors have long supported the PWBA and its predecessors and believe in the importance of a women's professional tour. Our commitment of $60,000 in television commercial support at our spring board of directors meeting should be seen as evidence of that belief and support.

I'd be glad to discuss this in greater detail but do not expect that any additional choices would become available or that we would take a significantly different position unless the circumstances also change.

Jack Kelly
Chief Executive Officer


BPAA MEMORANDUM
________________________________________________________
DATE: 8/6/01
TO: All BPAA Members
FROM: Jack Kelly
SUBJECT: 2001 U.S. Open

As you may have heard or seen by now, a number of members of the PWBA have announced that, if prize money for the 2001 U.S. Open is not equal for men and women, they will elect not to participate. Attached you will find a letter from the BPAA to the PWBA regarding this issue and a subsequent press release by the PWBA regarding their "sidestep" of the Open.

I believe that a reading of the attached material will give you a good sense of the issues and both the BPAA and PWBA positions. I would also like to highlight the following:

  • While BPAA has conducted the Open for many years, with varying financial results, our board of directors has decided that any projected losses should not exceed certain levels, to allow BPAA funds to be spent on other member projects.

  • BPAA has guaranteed equal prize fund amounts of $187,500 to both men and women for 2001.

  • The PBA, in an attempt to raise the image of bowling, has decided to increase the men's prize fund to $350,000 and to take on the full responsibility for such funding.

  • The PWBA has taken a subsequent position that because the PBA has done so, that BPAA needs to increase (at BPAA's effort and expense) the prize fund equal to what the PBA has agreed to provide for its members.

  • BPAA has offered, in several different forums to work with the PWBA regarding providing television for the women's U.S. Open. To date, the PWBA has not provided BPAA with any specific proposal to review although it is our understanding that a specific time period is currently available.

  • The $187,500 in prize funds for women would be, by a large margin, the largest prize fund for a women's professional tournament for 2001. This alone would not be a determining factor, but it is also equal to what BPAA offered to male bowlers prior to the PBA taking over that responsibility.

  • The PWBA refers to the U.S. Open several times as a "co-ed" event. This implies that men and women are competing in the same event. In fact, there are two separate events which are being held in the same venue over the same days. There is no combined or "co-ed" competition.

  • BPAA does embrace "gender equity" in bowling. Half of our customers are women and we both respect and appreciate that. We do not believe that our position contradicts accepted principles of gender equity which provide for equal access and equal opportunity as both men and women have been treated exactly equally by BPAA with respect to U.S. Open prize money. The issue has resulted because one group (the men) decided to, unilaterally, increase money they put into the event.

We recognize that this is a complicated and sensitive issue on which intelligent, well meaning people may disagree and that "principle" may be defined in different ways. We respect the right of people to differ in their opinions and the right of individual bowlers to stand by their principles in any way that they determine is appropriate to them. We are hopeful that those who differ with our opinion offer the same consideration to others who disagree with them.



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