An Interview with World Tenpin Bowling Association President, Kevin Dornberger

    12/08/10

    World News

    2010MWCWTBAPresidentKevinDornberger.jpgAs reported yesterday the WTBA presidium, the Executive Board of the World Tenpin Bowling Association, has awarded the 2013 combined World Championships to Henderson, Nev. during the board's meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, from December 1-3.

    In an interview with Bowlingdigital.com editor Herbert Bickel, WTBA President Kevin Dornberger (pictured), United States, spoke about the advantages Henderson offers to our sport; the reorganization of the WTBA and the obstacles to become a professional organization; the upcoming World Bowling Tour in 2011; and a "global industry initiative".

     


    The WTBA Presidium has awarded the combined World Championships 2013 to Henderson, Nev., United States. Other contenders were Munich, Germany and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Why did the presidium vote for Henderson?

    Henderson, Nevada, made a very strong bid offering advantages to our sport such as visibility, athlete-friendly environment and a significant host fee.

    Henderson is a vibrant community on the Southern edge of Las Vegas, one of the most vibrant and visible markets in the world. The 2013 WTBA World Championships will be one of the signature events for Henderson, and they will use the resources of their marketing team, as well as the marketing team for Station Casinos, to drive spectators, media, sponsor and community involvement for the mutual benefit of the sport of bowling and the Henderson area. The opening ceremony will be held in an outdoor amphitheater that can seat up to 4,000.

    The 72-lane Strike Zone Bowling Center is self-contained within the Sunset Station Casino complex, which also contains many restaurants and other amenities. All of the athletes and coaches will be housed at Sunset Station, which allows those participants the opportunity to walk to the bowling venue for all squads without being bound to busing schedules. Many other amenities are within walking distance.

    For the first time in history, WTBA will receive a significant host fee for a world championship event. This will allow WTBA to guarantee television coverage more than three years prior to the championship, substantially increasing the likelihood that sponsors will have interest. In the long term, it will also assist WTBA in becoming a professional organization.

     


    Why should the WTBA become a professional organization? What is the advantage?

    The World Tenpin Bowling Association is the governing body of approximately 2,800,000 registered bowlers from 113 member federations all over the world.

    The Presidium agreed that it would benefit the organization and the federations if WTBA became a professional organization, staffed by individuals who dedicate 100% of their time on the development of tenpin bowling. Several obstacles were discussed and initial steps taken to overcome those obstacles.

     


    What are the primary obstacles?

    In my view, the primary obstacles are funding and history. Employees cost money and our current budget doesn't allow for full-time employees.

    We need to substantially increase WTBA revenue. We have started that process through the new world championships bidding process and within a few years the World Bowling Tour may be producing net revenue.

    We have no current full-time staff at the moment. The secretary-general is considered part-time, and the president and other officers are volunteers. The president should attend all regional and multi-sport competitions in all zones.

    That is the process by which personal and business relationships are built that would likely lead to future World Championship hosts, World Tour stops and projects we can't imagine today.

    There is plenty of administrative work to keep the secretary-general busy, including website development and maintenance. In the forward of a sport development book authored by our sports consultant, TSE, it is stated that the International Federation for Cycling has 55 employees. Think about that!

     


    During the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs Congress at the Men's World Championships in Munich in August, the WTBA and the WNBA (World Ninepin Bowling Association) made a joint proposal to reorganize FIQ but no decision was made by the delegates. Did the WTBA presidium discuss the issue in Lausanne?

    We are very close to finalizing the slightly modified version of the WTBA/WNBA joint proposal for reorganization for the 2011 FIQ Congress. Ludwig Kocsis, President of WNBA, joined us in Lausanne for further discussions.

    Ludwig and I had the opportunity to discuss the subject of reorganization directly with IOC (international Olympic Committee) personnel while in Lausanne. IOC expressed no concerns with the reorganization plan.

     


    What were the problems with the old system and what are the plans for the future?

    Our current governance model is unclear as to whether FIQ or WNBA/WTBA are responsible for certain activities and decisions. As a result, leadership of both organizations has frequently clashed over the last 15 years as to who is in charge of what. This system needs to change.

    There are really only two choices for the effective international management of the sport of bowling; one is the management and development of both ninepin and tenpin disciplines, including championships, through FIQ, and the other is the management of ninepin sport and championships by WNBA, and the management of tenpin sport and championships by WTBA.

    All of the members of the WNBA and WTBA presidiums have unanimously chosen the model under which WNBA and WTBA manage their own sports, under the umbrella of FIQ.

    Under the new reorganization proposal, the FIQ would be responsible for relations with the IOC and other multi-sport organizations, the general development of the disciplines, and the olympic effort.

    WNBA and WTBA would be responsible for all aspects of their own activities, including championships.

    The FIQ presidium would consist of seven members; 1 appointed by WNBA, 4 appointed by WTBA (presumably the zone presidents + 1), and the president and vice-president, who would be elected from the presidents of WNBA and WTBA.

     


    The next FIQ and WTBA Congresses are supposed to be held in conjunction with the 2011 Women's World Championships. As reported earlier Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress president Ponkuchamy Satkuna Nathan has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the WTBA Presidium decision to withdraw the 2011 WWC from Malaysia. The WTBA Presidium has, as we also know, awarded Hong Kong to host the 2011 WWC. Did CAS make a decision about the claim and can you confirm that the WWC and the congresses will be held in Hong Kong in 2011?

    The FIQ and WTBA Congresses are scheduled for August 29-31, 2011 in Hong Kong. All information and documents have been submitted to the CAS arbitrator. We are now awaiting a decision. WTBA has spent almost $40,000 on CAS and lawyer fees at this point. That is certainly an impediment to becoming a professional organization.

     


    In November, the World Tenpin Bowling Association has announced the launch of a World Bowling Tour in 2011. It was said there will be five to seven events on the initial calendar with minimum of USD 100,000 prize fund each. Are there any news in regard to the WBT?

    The 2011 World Bowling Tour has five confirmed events at this moment, the Brunswick Ballmaster Open in Helsinki, Finland (Jan. 1-9); the USBC Masters in Reno, Nev., United States (Feb. 6-13); the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Paris, France (March 4-13); the Kuwait International Open in Kuwait (March 18-22); and a new event in Thailand.

    Tentative dates for the WBT stop in Thailand are September 24-30, 2011. It will be promoted through the Thai Tenpin Federation and Thai Government.

    The current European events are the largest prize money events in Europe and both have excellent local promoters. Brunswick is very encouraging of the World Bowling Tour.

    The Kuwait International Open has a very large prize fund and is sponsored and promoted by Sheikh Talal, who is the president of the Asian Bowling Federation.

    The USBC Masters is promoted by the United States Bowling Congress and is part of the PBA Tour. Historically the Masters has had the highest prize money for a U.S. event.

    I am negotiating with several other event promoters to add to that schedule. WTBA also believes that there will be commercial interest in a year-end final and we are exploring options for 2012.

     


    We have heard about a "global industry initiative". What is this about?

    The WTBA will enter into discussions with several commercial bowling industry integers in order to determine whether there is an opportunity for a global partnership starting as early as 2011 that is designed to assist federations in developing the competitive bowling environment.

    Federations have historically been given little guidance when it comes to development programs and effective business models. WTBA has simply not had the resources in the past to effectively provide such guidance.

    As a result, you will find wildly inconsistent levels of development in our federations. In many federations, the concept of some sort of structured organized competition, such as leagues or clubs, is unknown.

    It's in the best interests of WTBA, as well as the global commercial bowling industry, to provide competitive bowler program options to these federations, and on-site education and implementation assistance.

    It is our intention to determine whether a partnership/joint venture might be developed to deal with this issue.

     


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