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The Right Approach...Views on the world of bowling.

Volume 1, Issue 41

By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

      When I first heard a few months ago that Bowling, Inc. was in negotiation for a site near Orlando, Florida to build another bowling stadium, I thought they were nuts. My first thoughts turned to what was going to happen to Reno and their stadium. As "the" National Bowling Stadium, what happens to Reno if Florida goes through with the $300+ million dollars in bonds and debt forgiveness to build a state-of-the-art bowling complex and office facilities for Bowling, Inc.'s headquarters?

      As a dual-sanctioned bowler, I've always known I had two out of three years where one organization would host nationals in Reno. I'm not a big gambler, but Reno's a nice place. Despite being in the mountains, it's not that cold. It's colder than I'd like, but it's not really cold. They've got the 24-hour thing down, so even folks who bowl the late squads could find food or drink afterward. Reno has a great car museum within walking distance--heck, everything is within walking distance. You fly in, and you don't even need to rent a car. They pick you up at the airport, and you can walk to the stadium from most of the hotels. And of course, if you really want to see snow, you can take a drive out toward Tahoe.

      For the other tournaments, I liked the concept of traveling to other parts of the country, visiting their convention centers, and bowling with my friends. Until this week. Western New York got bombed by another storm. The whiteout conditions that friends and I experienced driving back through Canada to Detroit obviously picked up steam as it headed east. I can't think of a worse reason to be stuck somewhere than being stuck in a primarily industrial town in several feet of snow. Several of us have already expressed concern about the kind of weather we will find in Billings, Montana in the year 2001. Since the common bowler has no control over where the tournaments will be held, the idea of a more temperate locale every third year is definitely appealing.

      Unfortunately, when bidding on tournament sites, ABC doesn't pay much, if anything, for the convention center space where the lanes are installed, providing instead a steady stream of bowlers who pump tourist dollars into the economy during the slow winter season in the form of airfare, rental cars, hotel rooms, food, and beverages. Free is great, but as a lifelong Southern Californian, cold to me is like 50 degrees. I'll suffer through colder climates to bowl with my friends, but there are many smart folks who will turn their nose up at 40" of snow. WIBC actually hosts its tournaments at existing bowling centers in the host city, only requiring the space for the actual convention. While Ft. Lauderdale in 2001 is appealing, there is always security in knowing that everyone is on an equal footing since no one has bowled on the new lanes before they are installed for the tournament.

      In order for the Florida complex to come to pass, ABC, WIBC, and the Mixed Doubles (now the Festival of Bowling) have to commit to hosting a similar amount of tournaments in Orlando as they did for the Reno deal from several years ago. But this would be a warmer climate, and there are things to do there. I've heard that Florida is hoping that bowlers bring their families to these events and make it a real vacation. The fact that Orlando is a tourist town already has appeal. There are always specials on airfare to Orlando, so that's another plus. Add in the climate, and I can see the possibilities. I'm sure there are no blue laws that prevent the sale of alcohol, and I'm sure the restaurants and stores are open late. It'll be interesting to see how the delegates vote on this proposal since it does limit the tournament cities yet again. But if they're gonna put limits on me, let it be that I'll be forced to pack sunscreen and shorts.

Gotta Split,


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