80-lane stadium for Reno

January 17, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

If they build it, will you bowl?

That's the $30 million question that the city of Reno, Nev., has answered with a definite yes. Groundbreaking on the National Bowling Stadium -- the first bowling stadium in the world -- takes place Jan. 25.

The 80-lane facility, which will seat 3,000 spectators, is expected to draw an average of 200,000 bowlers to Reno after it opens in 1995.

Some Baltimore bowlers can't wait.

"I think it's going to be great," said M. Theresa Ray, president of the Baltimore Women's Bowling Association, the local chapter of the WIBC.

"People are really excited about it," said Don McMaster, a life member of the Greater Baltimore Bowling Association, the local chapter of the ABC.

Each year, the ABC and WIBC hold national tournaments that lasts for three months. League bowlers from around the country often schedule their vacations so they can compete in singles, doubles and team competition.

The tournaments have been held at various cities -- in 1981, the WIBC tournament was in Baltimore -- and Reno officials noticed a boost to their tourist industry every time one of the big tournaments came to town.

So, about six years ago, they started talking about building a bowling stadium.

People laughed.

"Everybody agreed that it would be super great," said McMaster, "But they felt nobody would ever do it."

Reno persisted. Officials negotiated long-term agreements with ABC and WIBC. Those organizations agreed to conduct their national tournaments there every three years, on a staggered schedule. ABC will have the first tournament in 1995, WIBC in 1997.

"The hotels and casinos are wildly ecstatic about this," said Greg Fine, publicist for the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority. Officials estimate having about $1 billion from bowling pumped into the local economy in the first 10 years, he said.

To pay for the stadium, Reno sold municipal bonds backed by a 1 percent increase in the city's hotel tax, said Fine.

McMaster, who has been to about 15 ABC tournaments, is planning to attend the 1995 event, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the American Bowling Congress.

At normal ABC national tournaments, anywhere from 80,000 to 90,000 bowlers attend. Reno officials think they'll get more than 100,000 for the 1995 event. McMaster thinks the number will be closer to 500,000.

"It's going to be a super year for bowling," said McMaster. "It might just be the mechanism that brings bowling back."

The bowling stadium will feature a pro shop, retail space, an IMAX theater and valet bowling ball service. When you pull up out front, someone will be there to tote your bowling equipment to your lanes.

But this will only be for the tournaments. It won't be open for regular leagues or for people to walk in off the street to bowl, said Fine.

When there's no tournament, the lanes will be covered so other events can take place.

Father-son win

Bob Evans Sr. and his son, Bob Jr., recently won the annual Adult/Youth 9-pin No Tap tournament at Country Club Lanes. The pair set a record for the tournament by knocking down 1,714 pins (with handicap).

In the second of three games, both Bobs rolled 300 games. Their scores were: Bob Sr. 265, 300, 285 (850) and Bob Jr. 206, 300, 211 (717, or 862 with handicap).

Second went to Jason Smith and Kevin Leist, with a combined 1,648; third were Tammy Hummel and Eugene Sasser, with a 1,646.

Country Club scores

In the Baltimore Classic Scratch league at Country Club Lanes, Mike Bowers rolled a 794 series with games of 269, 278 and 247.

In the same league on the same night, 11 other bowlers rolled 700 series, including Chuck Tillman with a 769 (234, 290, 245) and Jack Hoskins with a 766 (243, 278, 245).

In one league, Chris Shaw shot a 290 game, and in another, he rolled a 739 set with games of 247, 247 and 245.

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