War and Peace, Bowling's Own Version of a Great History Book By Dick Evans



    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg Twenty-five years ago a war of words and threats was tearing bowling apart as bowlers and proprietors fought over high scores.

    The American Bowling Congress and Women's International Bowling Congress would inspect lanes after honor scores were bowled and decide that the lanes were doctored illegally to induce artificial high scores and deny them recognition.

    The ABC even went so far as to throw out Glenn Allison's world record 300-300-300–900 bowled in California back in 1982.

    Proprietors were so furious over the rash of scores being thrown out that many threatened to throw out ABC/WIBC lane inspectors out of their establishments because so many 300 games and 700 series were being rejected.

    Things got so bad in Miami that the local secretary wrote a letter to all the proprietors and said he knew they were cheating and would catch them at it.

    Oh how things have changed -- thanks goodness.

    On March 11, 2008, the board of directors for the United States Bowling Congress (the ABC and WIBC have merged) voted to move its headquarters from the Greater Milwaukee area to Arlington, Texas – home of the Cowboys and Rangers and the Bowling Proprietors Association of America and future home of the International Bowling Campus.

    "This is a great decision for bowling," said Jeff Boje, president of the USBC and immediate past president of the BPAA and owner of two Florida Bowling Centers.

    At that time Boje said the final decision about the move would depend on a grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund.

    Tuesday that grant was granted by the Texas Enterprise Fund in the form of a $693,000 grant.

    Boje said Thursday that "They (TEF) will give half when we buy the building and half when the relocation is done. The city of Arlington is also giving some perks like tax abatements, etc. It was a contingency but we were 99% sure it would be granted. At this point it is a done deal.'

    The standing building that will be purchased and shared by the USBC and BPAA is located at 621 Six Flags Drive. It has office space to house all branches of bowling, including even the PBA if it ever decided to move its headquarters from downtown Seattle and the National Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum in case it decided to move from downtown St. Louis.

    The bowling campus will be the home of the Bowling Foundation, Strike Ten Entertainment, International Pro Shops & Instructors Association, The Bowling Center Management School and the Billiards and Bowling Institute of America.

    There also are plans to build a $14 million complex on an adjacent vacant piece of land that will include a 12 to 16 lane combined equipment testing and international training center that also might host special tournaments.

    The bowling campus should become a tourist attraction since this area thrives on tourist with the Six Flags Park, Ranger Stadium and the future home of the Cowboys within easy walking distance.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry said "As a result of tools like the TEF, Texas continues to diversify our economic portfolio by attracting businesses like the U.S. Bowling Congress."

    If the governor of Texas and the city officials in Arlington aren't giving the bowling industry money because they love bowling. No, they are doing it because they love the idea of the center of the bowling world being located in Arlington and so do I after visiting the complex.

    And to think, 10 years ago the bowling industry tried to swing a similar deal with the State of Florida to build the international bowling campus close to Disney World.

    BPAA, which owns a small office building in Arlington only a half a block away from the proposed campus has pledged to pay for half of the complex while utilizing less than 20 percent of the space.

    Everything is Up to Date in Kansas City

    Hope you are planning on attending the 2008 USBC Convention in Kansas City May 6-10 so you can be part of the greatest bowling convention ever by any bowling membership organization, and that is saying a lot for a sport whose roots date back to 1895.

    From where I sit here in Florida, Kansas City is going to be as good as the one of my favorite songs predicted...."everything is up to date in Kansas City."

    I am predicting a record turnout of new and old Hall of Fame members during the week, thanks to an expanded recognition of Hall of Famers and their accomplishments.

    The late Dick Weber and Joe Norris, my Hall of Fame idols, probably are lining up their heavenly bowling buddies to watch over the May 6-10 festivities in Kansas City.

    As a reporter, my personal highlight will be the unique "Bowling's Clash Champions," a $100,000 extravaganza that will pit great USBC champions from age 17 to 54. The taping of the two CBS television shows will be Thursday, May 8 at the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium and the bowling competition should draw thousands of the USBC delegates.

    The announcing team for the telecasts will be more versatile than any in my memory but there is no question the setting never has been more unusual. Four lanes will be constructed on the floor of the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium for the bowling competition among 16 USBC champions...including super stars like Pete Weber, Kelly Kulick, Sean Rash, Liz Johnson, Wendy Macpherson, Tom Baker and Lynda Barnes.

    The stage for the USBC Convention will be built on top of the pinsetters in the 10,000 seat arena.

    The taped Clash telecasts will be carried by the CBS network on Saturday, May 10 at 5 p.m. EDT and Sunday, May 11 at 4 p.m. EDT.

    The complete TV package comes out of the fertile mind of Tom Clark, the USBC's director of communications who last year brought the country the highly successful five U.S. Women's Open telecasts that led to 16 women competing on the PBA tour.

    In my mind, Tom Clark is second only to legendary PBA founder Eddie Elias when it comes to working TV magic.

    It is must viewing if you like bowling and love seeing men and women getting an equal shot at the $50,000 championship.

    As the USBC brochure says, "Join the Action in Kansas City," -- in person on as a TV viewer.

    Email address: Evans121@aol.com