All bowling roads lead to Orlando and Disney World's Sports Complex By Dick Evans



    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg Bowling finally made the 6 p.m. local news telecast in Orlando Monday night when the NBC affiliate announced that a 100-lane bowling center will be built at the Disney Sports Complex.

    If you don't live in Florida you probably don't know too much about the Disney Sports Complex but like everything else Disney does it is first class.

    The Tampa Bay Bucs begin their training for each NFL season at the Disney Sports Complex and all the players brag about the accommodations. The Devil Rays play a few of their American League games at the Disney baseball stadium. NBA hopefuls are trying to lure the eyes of major league scouts at the basketball gym. Golf and tennis already are fixtures.

    And now they are going to add bowling.

    With a little luck in the form of bad weather for visitors to the regular Disney attractions, bowling could become the No. 1 year-round attraction at the sports complex.

    The Channel 4 announcer didn't say anything about the seating capacity but since the United States Bowling Congress is going to run 13 of its national tournaments at the site, I would have to believe it will include permanent seats.

    The timing of the announcement is great, although the announcement itself is not too surprising.

    The timing is right because 5,000 plus proprietors, vendors, bowlers, officials, writers will descend on Orlando starting June 21 for Bowl Expo at the Orange County Convention Center. A few of them may want to jump on Interstate 4 and head west for about 25 miles to check out the Disney Sports Complex.

    Last year the USBC announced that the 2011 national tournament would be held in the Greater Orlando area but no actual facts have been announced until Monday.

    This will give bowling three great venues across America -- The Disney Bowling Center, the in-the-works International Bowling Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the National Bowling Stadium in Reno.

    This also means that starting in 2011 that the national USBC tournaments will have two permanent sites every three years. That is probably a blessing since it is getting tougher and tougher to line up plush convention centers for 100-plus day tournaments.

    My how things are changing.

    About 10 years ago there were studies about moving a major portion of the bowling industry to the Disney area but concept died when the State of Florida did not come up with the requested financial help.

    Then last fall the Arlington project was approved and in quick fashion all the pieces started to fall into place thanks to help from the State of Texas. Now it looks like even the Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum will be moving to Arlington although no official announcement has been made.

    The Professional Bowlers Association has abandoned Florida for most of the 21st Century but I envision the PBA returning to the Sunshine State for the Sunshine Open.

    I truly believe the Disney bowling center could be a major attraction for tourists. One big reason is the fact it will feature air-conditioning and from April through October an air-condition facility becomes a big draw for Disney tourists trying to escape the hot or rainy weather.

    Besides, Mickey and Minnie are working on their bowling games in order to get ready for some pot-game action.

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