The Professional Bowlers Association is looking to bring either a PBA Tour event or a related event to the Portland area in February 2015. Executives from the PBA toured four bowling centers two weeks ago and were impressed with the sites and the interest in bowling in the area.
“It’s certainly our intention,” said Tom Clark, the commissioner of the Professional Bowlers Association of bringing an event to the Portland area.
“We were certainly impressed with the people there. We left convinced that we would like to bring the PBA there for the first time in our history,” he said.
The world’s top 10-pin bowlers (big balls) compete on the PBA Tour.
The only question – what type of an event? There are the better known regular tour events televised on ESPN where bowlers compete individually against one another and there are the PBA League matches where eight teams of five bowlers compete in a team format. The PBA has had a contract with ESPN to televise its events since 1979.
“Most likely it will be a PBA League Match, but it could be a tour event, ” said Brian Corcoran, president and owner of Shamrock Sports and Entertainment.
“It’s just a matter of the details. Securing the dates and finding out which ones work the best for us and our partners at ESPN,” he said.
Shamrock Sports and Entertainment, located in Portland, represents the PBA along with other sports entities.
“It’s the 40 best bowlers on the PBA,” said Corcoran of the team competition. “Each team in the PBA League has a celebrity owner. The bowlers are hand selected.”
Corcoran said an announcement on the Maine event should be made by June 1.
Clark said the PBA League is in its second year.
“It’s another way for fans to follow our sport. They’re getting used to it,” he said.
One of the bowling centers the PBA looked at was Bayside Bowl in Portland. They also toured Spare Time in Portland, Yankee Lanes in Brunswick and the recently opened Easy Day in South Portland.
“Nothing is set in stone until it is set in stone, but everything I’ve heard, it’s set to happen,” said Charlie Mitchell, owner of Bayside Bowl.
“It’s just what kind of event it will be and the dates. We would certainly be excited to have a PBA event. Shamrock brought the PBA people in and they were kind of blown away by the energy here. They said this is a real bowling alley.”
Bayside Bowl, which opened four years ago this June, has 12 lanes. Clark said regular tour events require a minimum of 32 lanes. If a tour event came to Portland, the other bowling centers in the area would likely hold the qualifying rounds with the finals at Bayside.
Corcoran said the total purse for a tour event is $250,000.
PBA league matches are taped and shown later in three to four-week segments.
“It works like a bracket in the NCAA basketball tournament,” said Clark.
“We have the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. We need only two lanes for team matches. We can stage the whole thing at one place.
“Bayside Bowl has a real intimate atmosphere. We could be put a lot of fans in there. We could run pro-ams with our bowlers at the other sites.”
The PBA is looking to stage events in emerging markets such as Portland.
“I think it was a real eye-opener for the PBA officials to see how healthy the participation level was in bowling in this area.” said Corcoran. “The participation levels in bowling has increased in Northern New England. We’ve been working with the local bowling proprietors here. We’re in the process of identifying sponsors.”
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or firstname.lastname@example.org