Bowling: PBA’s money troubles lead to schedule changes

Two weeks ago in this space, I discussed some issues I saw with this year’s World Series of Bowling. Now, just days ago come releases and columns indicating that the Professional Bowlers Association isn’t standing on solid ground.

Decades ago, the tour made regular appearances in Dallas, New Orleans, down the West and East Coast and at bowling meccas around the country. Even summer tour stops found their way to places like Omaha, Neb., and Austin, Texas.

If you wanted to watch the pros bowl in a national event in 2013, you had to find your way to Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Detroit. That doesn’t count events in New Jersey or Ohio that either the USBC or the bowling proprietors put on.

Now comes the announcement that the PBA is in some money trouble; the Tournament of Champions and other events in Indianapolis will not be held there; and the extensive PBA League schedule to be bowled in Detroit and Indianapolis will now be just an eight-team bracketed tournament with no extra prize money.

My colleague in Madison, Wis., Jeff Richgels of 11thframe.com, has talked to PBA commissioner Tom Clark. On the problems, Clark said, “Our 2014 budget was based on revenue projections that have not come in. The owners can’t cover the entire budget, so there had to be adjustments.”

Clark was told he had to cover the 36 hours of programming that ESPN had been guaranteed. So the Tournament of Champions moves to Thunderbowl Arena in Detroit in a live show Jan. 26. The Elias Cup now will be taped after the USBC Masters telecast in North Brunswick, N.J., thus eliminating the PBA having from setting up shop in Indianapolis.

“That saved us a couple hundred thousand dollars in production expenses for the Indianapolis competition,” Clark said.

Gone for the moment, amazingly, is prize money for the PBA League. Now the bracketed event will have a singles, doubles and baker match on each show, which means that losing teams in the first round could have bowlers throw just a couple of shots to get their 2014 guaranteed salaries. That could change if a sponsor comes through, but it will make the PBA League a glorified exhibition if no prize winnings are announced.

The CBS Sports Summer Swing could also be in jeopardy if revenues can’t be raised. There are two years left on that contract.

“I’m not trying to spin this, because it’s a clear indication we’re struggling,” Clark said. “But the fact is we are still on ESPN for 36 hours and have the league paying out $600,000. It’s not like the PBA is gone.”

They said that a lot about the women’s tour in the last couple of years before it disappeared. We’ve tried to say for years this isn’t the PBA Tour that people my age grew up with.

Will we soon be saying, “Remember the days when the best bowlers in the world bowled regularly on television in a national tour?”

Christmas tournaments

All-Star Lanes is in the midst of its seven tournaments of Christmas and, as you read this, six remain: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

There are all kinds of formats, including No-Tap Singles, Doubles, Eliminator; a Baker’s Doubles event and a Crazy Christmas format. Entry forms and times can be found at the center.

Sumner Taylor

There — I wrote his name.

It appears two weeks ago that I mentioned how much money the semifinal round losers got in the BR Singles event but didn’t mention one of the semifinalists. Sumner Taylor from here in Baton Rouge was our guy. Our apologies.

Holiday hours

Starting Tuesday, the bowling venues will go into holiday hours — and most will be closed.

Contact your favorite center with regards to opening on Christmas and see what they have in store for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as far as parties and specials.

Honor roll notes

Brian Yoches at Circle Bowl had a 278, 778 series to lead the men, while Tristan Senegal hit 700 and 267 for the ladies high. Justin Bui (726), Juan Coston Jr. (708) and Clay Craighead (705) all had 700 sets for the youth bowlers, and Jerry Wagener rolled 688 and Eva Newman 587 in the senior leagues.

Youth bowler Chad Conard picked up the 7-10 split, and senior bowler Jean Buchanan had a 116 triplicate.

That’s it for 2013. We return Jan. 7. Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, good luck and good bowling.