Lowe: Tournaments continue Baton Rouge’s relationship with bowling

Hello, United States Bowling Congress. Glad to see Baton Rouge included in your future.

Have to admit, you surprised me. You surprised me in many ways with this announcement of the USBC Women’s Tournament coming to the River Center in 2017 and then the USBC Open rolling back into the building in 2025.

When I got a call from someone alerting me to a possible news conference involving bowling, I was thinking this was happening at an interesting time with the opening of the 2013 Reno event just a couple of days away, but then, a report on Syracuse.com announcing a news conference for the same day was even more interesting.

Was it possible the USBC would announce tournaments in two different cities at almost the same time?

As it turns out last week, four different cities divided tournaments — the Open in 2018 to Syracuse and 2025 in Baton Rouge — with the USBC Women’s event here in 2017, 2019 in Wichita, Kan., and 2021 in Mobile, Ala. Wichita had an arena/city problem that forced them to give back an Open a few years ago.

When it comes to Baton Rouge, I will use a word Mayor Kip Holden has said to me personally when talking about the USBC last year at the end of the tournament and a word USBC Managing Director of Tournaments Brian Lewis used in a phone interview last week as well. The word is “relationship.”

Baton Rouge bowling officials, Visit Baton Rouge, the Sports Foundation and city officials have welcomed the USBC and its officials, its volunteers and the bowlers into the city in a special way. That includes casinos, restaurants and hotels as well. It took a while for the places in the city to understand why all these bowlers were in town in 2005, but they made sure they were ready for them in 2012.

“There is part of this that started in Baton Rouge last year,” Lewis said. “In talking to Paul (Arrigo, Visit BR CEO), Coach (Jerry) Stovall and the mayor, they wanted to know what’s it going to take to get you back.”

And it appears while Baton Rouge was excited to bring the women to the River Center for the first time since 1993 when the local lanes hosted the event, the city did want a package deal that would bring the Open back in the future as well.

“We think having Baton Rouge host the ladies at the River Center will be a great fit,” Lewis said. “With the success in 1993 for them and the Open in 2005 and ’12, it was time to take the ladies back to Baton Rouge.”

While the mayor will no longer be in office because of term limits when the first ball is thrown in 2017, it certainly appears that his re-election helped speed the Baton Rouge package along to fruition. The team of Holden, Arrigo and Stovall all get it, and the fact that you saw all three of them at various times during the event last year at the River Center said everything to USBC officials about how much the event meant to them.

Plus the tax dollars to the city and parish didn’t hurt either.

What doesn’t hurt as well is that while Syracuse.com is reporting that the cost for their one tournament is $3.3 million, Baton Rouge could be on the hook for as little as $1.3 million on the low end and a lot less than $3 million on the high end as part of the package deal Baton Rouge has signed a letter of agreement on.

So while a lot of us are trying to figure how old we will be and if we can still throw the ball when the USBC Open comes back here in 2025, we will all patiently wait for four years to bring the women back for the first appearance here in 24 years. Nicely done Baton Rouge and USBC.

BR singles

Aaron Jones of Lake Charles kept Houston bowler Shawn Maldonado from winning two straight BR Singles titles in a battle of high average scratch bowlers at Metro Bowl on Sunday. Jones won the two-game match 444
(222-222) to 424 (190-234). Jones, a 231 average bowler, won the first prize of $2,693, while Maldonado won $1,346.

Jones took out the local hope, Jerry Conard, 494-408 in the semifinals, but Conard, who averaged 230 for the event, won $565, as did the other semifinalist (and runnerup in December), Justin Veitch of New Orleans. Veitch lost to Maldonado in a rematch of December’s final 473-450.

Kevin Johnson of Baton Rouge made the quarterfinal round, earning $377.09, while Dale Achord, Chris Anderson, Robert Blackwell, Justin Davis, Perry Durene, Trey Field, two-time Juneau champ Derwin Pitre and Woody Woodruff were the eight Louisiana bowlers who made it to the round of 16, earning $215.48 from the field of 411 entries.

The next BR event has a date change, now July 6-7 at Circle Bowl.

Honor roll notes

We don’t have room for all the honor roll notes this time, but the highs were Jason Webb with an 817 and a 289 high game for the men at Metro Bowl with Tristan Senegal dropping a 733 with a 280 at All-Star Lanes. Congrats also to Tiffany Blackwell with her best of 703 (277).

Jacob Garretson had a 662 with 255 to lead the youth leagues with Hayes Howell a 639 (264), while Mike Bass (724-245) and Roland LeGleux (723-268) had the big numbers for the seniors.

We’ll have to bottle up the rest of the notes for two weeks from now because of our USBC coverage. We will also get caught up on women’s state results and try to update some situations in high school bowling.

Until then, as always, good luck and good bowling.