Int'l Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame needs entire Campus complex to be part of lure By Dick Evans



    ColumnistDickEvans.jpgThe Old Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas knew how to draw bowlers and the new International Bowling Museum and Hall Of Fame in Arlington needs to come up with Showboat-like attractive league packages that include the entire bowling campus and then promote, promote, promote.

    The old Showboat Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas came to mind when I was exchanging emails with Keith Hamilton, publisher of Bowlers Journal International.

    Keith, along with Pat Ciniello, are the movers and shakers who will be responsible for the new International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame that is being put together at the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas.

    I personally was elated to see that the search committee appointed Bill Supper, truly an international bowling expert, to be director of the Museum.

    I was there when they opened the original museum in St. Louis longer than two decades ago and I always thought bowling leaders expected the then eight-million league bowlers at the time to flock to the museum.

    It didn't happened and a friend suggested to me that the problem was that nobody really promoted trips to the museum.

    So I have been trying to think of tourist packages that the new Museum could come up with to entice league bowlers to want to tour the new Museum in Arlington.

    And then I thought about the old Showboat operation that attracted league bowlers from throughout California to drive to Las Vegas to bowl in tournaments at the Showboat, which grew into a 106-lane bustling bowling center.

    I contacted Fran Deken, a USBC Hall of Famer, who, among her many bowling challenges at one time was booking California leagues for a mini-tournament at the Showboat.

    "The bowling centers in California ran these Showboat leagues all year round so a lot of centers would visit us twice a year and sometimes would book over 100 rooms at a time," Deken said.

    Let's be honest, the bowlers knew it was a good deal because the Showboat treated bowlers royally with cocktail parties, a few free rooms and other goodies.

    So how does the International Bowling Campus parlay all of its assets into an attractive tourist package that will make league bowlers want to set aside their league prize money for a memorable bowling trip to Arlington?

    Below are the incentives I would dangle in front of leagues and teams all across the country to form Arlington leagues.

    1. A mini-tournament on the testing center lanes complete with Museum souvenirs for the champions.

    2. A half day of free lessons from testing-center instructors.

    3. An opportunity to buy a high performance bowling ball at a discounted rate that includes measuring and drilling by one of the testing-center staff followed by 20 minutes of free instruction on how to throw the new ball correctly.

    4. A tour of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame by one of the Hall of Fame bowlers like Lynda or Chris Barnes who live in the Greater Dallas area. It would be wise use of USBC ambassadors.

    5. A tour of the complete facility with special emphasis on the USBC section of the IBC building with an opportunity to talk to a USBC director or even Stu Upson, the new executive director of the USBC, on what to expect in future years.

    6 A reduced rate at one of the first-rate hotels close to the Campus.

    7. A free ticket to Six Flags Over Texas, which is located across the street from the bowling campus. That roller coaster ride looks like fun.

    8. A reserved section of seats if the Rangers are in town since the baseball park is within walking distance.

    9, And instead of charging a fee just for a tour of the museum, I would offer a special tour ticket that includes all the incentives above.

    Then there is a matter of packaging all the great material from the St. Louis museum they will lack room to display it at the Arlington facility and shipping it to Reno and setting up some kind of West Coast bowling museum close to the National Bowling Stadium.

    Finally, a bowling museum on wheels that could be taken to all the big USBC tournaments sites – especially juniors who need to learn about bowling's colorful history – and maybe even two or three PBA major events like the Masters and Open.

    Make no mistake, the Bowling Museum in St. Louis, which was a great tribute to bowling's history including four old lanes, failed miserably when it came to meeting its financial obligations and cost the ABC and WIBC tons of money to keep open.

    So the Arlington Museum board must come up with attractive packages that would interest not only the league bowler but maybe also his wife or her husband and their children.

    And it has to be promoted and promoted and promoted.

    The Tri-Proprietors in Reno could offer free passes to the Bowling Western Museum as part of the hotel price.

    Every bowler in a USBC Open or USBC Women's Championship or any other major event could be given a free ticket to the museum on wheels and their followers would get deeply discounted tickets. A free bowling ball would be given away every week.

    Listen, I don't have the answers but I did enough promotion of baseball, bowling and horse racing events while working at The Miami Herald to know that an attraction becomes an even more attractive attraction when you package it correctly and then promote, promote, promote and promote some more to every bowler and every bowling league in every bowling center -- even if it is not a sanctioned USBC league.

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