PBA Tour's future in hands of corporate giant Bowlero Corp.; Mancuso's to host 60-and-Over event
AMF Bowling, now part of Bowlero Corp., hasn’t endeared itself to the league bowling community in recent years.
As the association manager of the New York State USBC, I have been contacted by more than a few league officials who reported that leagues were either booted out or had their days and times changed by proprietors of AMF centers. The major reason for this, you ask? To accommodate corporate and birthday parties and other social events.
I certainly understand that the bowling business is not what it used to be and that to bowling center owners, especially large corporations such as Bowlero, it’s all about the bottom line. However, the manner in which you go about instilling change – how you treat the league bowlers who have supported you for many years – does make a difference.
Things seemed to have settled down in recent months; league bowlers are adjusting to the new normal, but the perception that AMF doesn’t care about league and competitive bowling is still there.
News earlier this month that Bowlero, owner of more than 300 centers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has purchased the Professional Bowlers Association Tour may be a step in shifting that negative opinion.
Already Bowlero has increased tournament prize money, doubling the first prize check for next month’s Clash to $50,000, and promises to bring more technology and insight into the life of the professional bowler to its telecasts.
In an interview with FloBowling’s Lucas Wiseman, Bowlero Chief Customer Officer Colie Edison said she did not agree with the thought that Bowlero is against league bowling. She will be taking over as the CEO of the PBA while current CEO/Commissioner Tom Clark will continue as the commissioner.
“Shocker – I don’t think it’s a fair assessment, but I understand where people are coming from,” she said. “First and foremost, Bowlero Corp. is a for-profit organization and you have to remember a lot of what we have done is to keep bowling alive. If we don’t find ways to earn money at the centers, then the bowling centers go away.”
She said Bowlero has purchased AMF and Brunswick Zone centers to align with its top priority of getting “more people involved in bowling – whether that means bowling recreationally at our centers, bowling league in our centers or watching bowling on television.”
Edison acknowledged that many leagues had to be shifted (primarily off the weekends) but said the company has “put our money where our mouth is” by starting the Bowlero league series which has awarded more than $500,000 in prize money, sponsoring leagues and hosting youth tournaments.
Now, she touts the fact that Bowlero has stepped up to “write the check” with the purchase of the PBA, which has been experiencing an upswing since joining forces with FOX Sports. By the way, longtime PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark will continue with the PBA as the commissioner, focusing more on the tournament competition
When asked what her “dreams” for the PBA were five years down the road, Edison mentioned increased TV rights fees, player prize money and viewership.
“I want to see $20 to $50 million in rights fees … and not be relegated to the lower tiers. There’s no reason we can’t be up there with the other major pro sports. Will this happen in five years? It may be a bit further off in the distance.”
She also said the PBA Tour players deserve to “earn great money” and “not have to worry about where their next pay check is coming from” and seeks to attract millions of viewers and have as many shows as possible on live TV.
“We want the PBA to make money,” she said. “It’s an investment of time and money … using our resources to get sponsors, advertisers to support the prize funds.”
Getting back to the PBA Clash, the field of the top eight money earners for 2019 is set for the Oct. 21 competition at the Kegel Training Center in Lake Wales, Fla. Unfortunately, the event will not be broadcast live, but it will be shown on Nov. 3 on FOX.
Vying for the $50,000 top prize are Jason Belmonte, Australia, $275,290; Jakob Butturff, Mesa, Ariz., $185,780; Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., $177,148; Kris Prather, Plainfield, Ill., $175,248; EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., $170,445; Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, $159,340; Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., $127,968; Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., $97,415.
60-AND-OVER TOUR SLATE INCLUDES BATAVIA TOURNEY
The Tommy Kress 60-and-Over singles tour schedule includes a tournament at Mancuso Bowling Center that will be conducted in memory of Genesee Region USBC Hall of Famer Joe Trigilio, who passed away on Sept. 1.
“We lost one of the truly good guys that bowled just about every event (and won a couple),” Kress said. “We’ll be dedicating this tournament to Joe.”
The Batavia tournament is set for Sunday, Nov. 24, with check-in at 11 a.m. and bowling to start at noon.
The 60-and-Over tour schedule is as follows:
Oct. 6, Brockport Bowl.
Oct. 27, Rose Garden Bowl, Bergen.
Nov. 24, Mancuso Bowling Center, Batavia.
Dec. 8, Bowl-A-Roll, Rochester
Jan. 5, Doug Kent’s Rose Bowl Lanes, Newark
Jan. 26, Parkview, Rochester.
Feb. 23, TBA, sponsored by A Better Choice pro shop
March 15, Miller Lanes, Honeoye Falls.
April 5, Pleasure Lanes, Hilton.
May 3, Brad Angelo Lanes, Lockport.
TBA, Year-end tournament.
For more information or to enter, contact Kress at [email protected]
SPARE SHOTS: O’KEEFE DOMINATES ON PWBA TOUR
-- Shannon O’Keefe of Shiloh, Ill., a former Rochester resident (her husband, Bryan, is from the Flower City), completed a spectacular season on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour earlier this month by winning the PWBA Tour Championship in Richmond, Va.
The 40-year-old righty captured five titles in 2019 en route to her second straight PWBA Player of the Year award. She posted an 11-2 record in her seven championship round appearances.
-- Rochester NY USBC President Barry Vee announced that his board of directors has approved opening its annual Bowlers to Veterans Link fund-raising tournament to men and women members of the Genesee Region USBC.
The handicap tournament is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10 at Pleasure Lanes in Hilton. It’s a five-person Baker-style event with a buffet following competition included. The entry fee is $75 per team. All proceeds will go to the BVL fund to serve hospitalized veterans.
-- A pair of youth travel leagues for kids in our area is finalizing their schedules.
The Genesee Region Youth Travel League will open its season on Sunday, Oct. 13 at Mount Morris Lanes. Bowling begins promptly at 1 p.m.
Other tournaments on the slate thus far are Oct. 27 at Mancuso Bowling Center and Nov. 10 at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion.
Organizers are expecting seven to eight teams from centers in the GLOW region.
The Rochester Youth Travel League once again will include a team representing Mancuso Bowling Center.
It gets under way on Saturday, Oct. 5 at AMF Dewey Garden Lanes in Rochester, with bowling beginning at 2 p.m. AMF Empire Lanes in Webster will host the Oct. 12 session.
Coach Tom Fluker said six members of the Turnbull Heating Junior League will be participating – Haylee Thornley, Zach Wester, Emma Miller, Tony Sprague, Ben Sputore and Corinne Saluste.