The International Bowling Campus, set to open Monday, is the educational, governing and scientific center for the sport. It's where bowling's brightest minds will gather to pass knowledge to the next generation of enthusiasts, and help the elders reminisce.
The 100,000-square-foot campus will feature the sport's kid-friendly hall of fame and museum, a state-of-the art training and research facility, and bowling's governing bodies.
"We can say this is the Mecca of bowling right here. Without a doubt," said Stu Upson, the United States Bowling Congress' executive director.
Considered the sport's headquarters, the building is nestled in Arlington's entertainment district just blocks from Six Flags Over Texas and neighbors to Cowboys Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The facility on Six Flags Drive is like bowling's version of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It's a place where science and learning are helping novices and experts better understand the sport.
Technicians measure the force of a ball as it strikes a bowling pin. A robotic arm slings thousands of balls to test a lane's durability. And in the museum, exhibits display the evolution of bowling from its primitive days in ancient Egypt to the futuristic technology of today.
"The wealth of knowledge really is overwhelming in this building," said Henry Lewczyk, vice president of marketing for the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America.
"I can't think there's a question or an issue about bowling that can't be answered by somebody in this building without having to look it up," Upson added.
Moving to Arlington wasn't without controversy. The museum and hall of fame was in St. Louis, and the USBC, bowling's governing body, was in Glendale, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee.
Those cities are synonymous with beer and bowling.
When the USBC announced that it planned to leave Wisconsin, legendary sports journalist Frank Deford made his plea.
"As an erstwhile pin boy, I plead with the USBC to keep its sport in the city bowling made famous. After all, as Cracker Jack goes with baseball, as tailgating with football, so have bowling and beer and Milwaukee always gone together," he said on his National Public Radio show in 2008.
But Arlington is Fun City. And its proximity to tourism hot spots enticed the USBC and the museum to relocate.
"We hope to benefit from the fact that Arlington has become this tourist destination," Upson said. "A lot of people are already going to be here. Hopefully there's going to be a rainy morning and they want to go see us."
Having the sport headquartered in his backyard will offer conveniences for Bob Mann, who works part time at AMF Spare Time Lanes on Cooper Street in Arlington. But it probably won't make a difference to the casual bowler, he said.
"I'm glad they're doing it. To centralize this makes sense," Mann said. "The average person who comes in on the weekend to bowl with their kids couldn't care less."
Upson's goal is to embrace those casual bowlers and, like Milwaukee and St. Louis, make Arlington synonymous with bowling.
"Whatever level of interest you might have in bowling," he said, "this campus has a role for you."
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