Stumbling Block By John Jowdy

    03/07/08

    Column

    ColumnistJohnJowdy.jpg The Bowling Proprietors Association of America, under the dynamic leadership of John Berglund, has done a remarkable job of bringing together the major integers of the bowling industry. They have succeeded in luring the Bowling Writers Association of America to Bowl Expo and have annexed IBPSIA (the International Bowling Pro Shop Instructors Association).

    The United States Bowling Congress and the BPAA announced in November 2007 that their Board of Directors had approved a study of how much their operations should be integrated, which included a possible relocation of the organization's headquarters to a site near BPAA in Arlington, Texas.

    From a practical and financial standpoint, it seems prudent to centralize the two main organizations. This would certainly facilitate communications and, without question, prove a financial boon for the USBC. The current USBC headquarters are situated in one of the most lucrative areas in suburban Milwaukee. Sale of this prime location would certainly swell the coffers of the USBC.

    However, in recent weeks, the proposed move was not well received by USBC headquarters employees. There have been employee resignations and notices given and the proposed move has had a profound affect on approximately 200 USBC employees, many who have roots in Milwaukee, and some whom have recently purchased homes in this area.

    Despite this dilemma, there may be a bigger stumbling block to be reckoned with. The USBC, as the national governing body, ensures the integrity and protects the future of the sport and provides programs and services to over 2.6 million adult and youth that pay annual dues. You don't have to be a mathematical genius to realize the tremendous amount of dollars generated by annual dues. Which brings us to the stumbling block that must be reckoned with.

    It's no secret that "some" proprietors have the conceived notion that dues paid by the membership actually belong to the proprietors because the dues-payers are THEIR customers. This is not to imply that all proprietors harbor these feelings. Yet, this is a grave situation that will surely be contested and pursued by those who believe they are entitled to these monies.

    I, for one, have the greatest respect for the BPAA. However, under no circumstance do I concur with BPAA members who believe they are entitled to the dues paid by USBC members. If the BPAA have any thoughts of assuming the roles of setting rules and regulations, this would be a MAJOR catastrophe and would defy the logic of any sports organization.

    The owners of the playing field and the regulatory branch of any sport must remain separate and independent; just as it is in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the Professional Golf Association, the National Hockey League and any other sports organization.

    Although the Professional Bowlers Association is a privately owned company, it abides and complies with rules set forth by the USBC.

    Despite all the planning for this major move, it seems the proposed transition has encountered some unexpected bumps in the road. In its latest press release, the USBC Board of Directors has decided to meet Sunday March 9th in Atlanta to continue discussions on relocation of its headquarters from Greendale, Wis.

    Meanwhile, the city fathers of Milwaukee have joined the fray and reportedly made an offer to the USBC to stay in the greater Milwaukee area. An official with the Milwaukee 7, an organization dedicated to attracting business to and keeping business in the Milwaukee area, said that Milwaukee now has an offer that is "cost superior" to the deal currently on the table in Arlington.

    Reportedly, it has offered pieces of land, one in Milwaukee proper and one in suburban Cudahy, on which headquarters, testing and training facility could be constructed.

    Is the USBC having second thoughts regarding the transfer to Texas?

    Stay tuned.