PBA changes could benefit NWI
Steve T. Gorches firstname.lastname@example.org or 648-3141 July 3, 2012 11:00PM
Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune Post-Tribune sports writer Steve Gorches
Updated: August 5, 2012 6:31AM
For all you middle-aged or older fans of the Professional Bowlers Association, remember the good old days when the PBA season was a real season?
No campaign with only 18 or fewer titles on the line.
No excuses about lack of money or television time.
No Xtra Frame Tour with cheap payouts for the bowlers and Web-only telecasts.
Remember having a winter season and then a summer tour, with 35 or more titles on the line?
Remember having large tourney fields instead of that unfair “Exempt Tour” of recent years?
Guess what? It’s back and all I can say is it’s about darn time.
And the good news for Northwest Indiana PBA enthusiasts is that the regular tour could be coming back to the area.
We already have the very successful Senior Tour event at Olympia Lanes in Hammond, which returns next month with the pro-am sponsored by the Post-Tribune.
And for the last two years, the Summer Shootout has been held in Chicago (this year’s event will start a series of ESPN telecasts this weekend). But the area used to have two regular national stops — Northwest Indiana and Vernon Hills, Ill.
The news of a full PBA season returning was announced last week with the fitting description of “super-sized.” PBA commissioner Tom Clark said a return to Chicagoland is definitely a possible bonus for us.
“The (new) Summer Swing does not have a home yet and the Chicago area and (Hammond and Vernon Hills) have been great partners and hosts in the past that we hope to give great consideration to to host this first PBA Summer Swing,” Clark told me last week.
The upcoming 55th and biggest PBA season of them all will stretch from November of this year, starting with the World Series of Bowling (WSOB) in Las Vegas, through December 2013, leading to a new PBA yearly calendar starting in January 2014.
“Every year the greatest players in the world produce unforgettable moments in their quest for PBA titles, but the PBA and its fans wanted more,” Clark said in a release. “The stage is now set.”
Heck yes, the players and fans wanted more. When the PBA was saved from its own financial failures in 1999 by three former Microsoft executives, the future looked so bright, with larger prize funds across the board and more TV exposure.
It was a big tease for the players, since not too long after the initial boost, the money decreased, along with the number of tournament titles.
In one fell swoop, the dreary outlook has brightened with a super-sized announcement.
But the first thought from the cynic in me was about the money. How can the PBA afford this increase in events and a full-year schedule when Clark has lamented in recent years about dwindling sponsors (Denny’s and Lumber Liquidators used to have their names attached to the organization) resulting in less money to be distributed and cost-cutting measures to be implemented. (That’s partly why the WSOB was created in the first place.)
So where has the money come from to allow for the huge schedule expansion?
“The increases to the schedule are with the same general sponsorship revenue projections as last season,” Clark said. “Some ways we can get there includes the fact that there are less events at the WSOB (this November) compared to last year and no closed-field events, opening up a chance to hold the Winter Swing in Detroit as an open-field event.
“There are also no Xtra Frame Tour events. One benefit of reallocating funds from a reduced WSOB and no Xtra Frame Tour will be nationally televised events less stale than last season’s WSOB shows that aired (in the spring).”
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that debacle. It will be nice to watch tourneys on ESPN that haven’t already been finished for three months.
So basically, the WSOB which has been a major reason Hammond and Vernon Hills don’t host tourneys now — no matter what the PBA tells you in its spin cycle — is now part of the solution to mold the PBA back into its old form and beyond, along with the old expanded fields and no Web-only events to create more TV revenue.
Now let’s hope that the region is looked upon kindly by Clark and the powers that be, and that we get a national stop again. We do have the bonus of having a major return to Indiana — the Tournament of Champions will be at Woodland Bowl for the first time next March.
Bowling for BackPacks: The Giving BackPack Foundation is raising funds to help provide backpacks and supplies to children in need. The inaugural Bowling for BackPacks team tourney at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 28 at Stardust Bowl II in Hobart.
The cost is $75 for a team of three bowlers in the elimination format event. Anyone who brings school supplies to donate will receive $5 off per person. The winning team earns $100 and a trophy. To sign-up, visit www.TheGivingBackPack.org.
Lakeshore Association meeting: The Lakeshore Bowling Association will hold its annual membership meeting at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 15 at Stardust II. Among the items on the agenda are election of new officers for the merged association and the first election of new men’s and women’s hall of fame members to be inducted at the annual Lakeshore Hall of Fame Banquet in November.