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mrbowling300

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The uncertain future of the PBA may be getting even more uncertain.

Bowlers Journal International reported on its website Thursday that Chris Peters, one of the three tech titans who acquired the PBA as it was on the verge of bankruptcy a decade ago, is scaling back his involvement.

"Chris does not want to continue to participate at the levels he has in the past," PBA Commissioner Fred Schreyer told BJI. "It's likely he won't play the same role going forward, and won't participate in future financing rounds."

It's no secret that Peters and partners Rob Glaser and Mike Slade have poured tens of millions of dollars into the PBA over the past decade without being able to turn the league into a money-making enterprise.

Schreyer told BJI the PBA has turned a profit in only one fiscal year in that time, and this season lost sponsors H&R Block, CLR, Edward Jones and Flomax amid the brutal recession.

Glaser and Slade remain committed and the PBA is not going under, Schreyer told BJI. Further details are in BJI's story.

But the rumor mill has been on overdrive for quite some time regarding the future of the PBA.

You may have heard that the PBA is going to fold, that USBC or BPAA is going to buy it, that there will be just half a tour in 2010-11, and that the Tour will have nothing but open tournaments next season.

The PBA has made it clear in the last couple of years -- most notably with the World Series of Bowling -- that its bottom line literally is its bottom line. (There has been talk of a 2010-11 World Series being held in September, possibly in Las Vegas.)

And what happens in 2010-11 can't be known until that bottom line is clear. And that bottom line can't be clear until companies are in better position to decide what they might spend on advertising and sponsorships.

ESPN has made it clear that it wants professional bowling on TV -- on its terms, which means PBA buys the air time and then sells ads and sponsorship to cover its costs.

The PBA got some good news in January when it announced a renewed and expanded deal with Bayer.

But the real key is having a title sponsor. The deal with Lumber Liquidators runs through 2010 and that has been the source of the half-season rumors.

The scenario one source sketched out for me is that if Lumber Liquidators doesn't renew its deal, PBA essentially would cut to half a season in 2010-11. That way it wouldn't be spending money putting on events in the latter half of 2010 that would carry the Lumber Liquidators banner when that company has abandoned the PBA.

Better to save the money, fill the ESPN time slots in the fall of 2010 (when the PBA is going head to head with the NFL) with "Silly Season" events like the King of the Hill or GEICO Team Shootout, then start fresh in 2011, running major championships and top-of-the-line tournaments like the Dick Weber Invitational with live TV finals.

Presumably, that schedule, which would mostly or completely avoid the NFL, would be an easier sell to a new umbrella sponsor and other sponsors.

One sticking point is that there will be a core of players who have earned exemptions and the PBA may have some commitment there that it legally must fulfill.

One rumor has the PBA running open field events with the exempt players guaranteed their minimum checks even if they don't finish in the cashing portion of an event. Another is the PBA will simply pay those players off the value of their exemptions.

The economy has dealt a blow to just about every sport. The LPGA, for example, has lost so many sponsors that the schedule its running in 2010 almost can't be called a Tour. Even the mighty NFL has seen places like Jacksonville fall far short of capacity in ticket sales, resulting in local TV blackouts.

One thing I don't worry about is the complete disappearance of professional bowling.

One bowling industry figure told me there's no way BPAA would let pro bowling disappear from TV. That person said BPAA has a plan to put on tournaments should the current PBA ownership give up. Of course, first prize might not be near the current $25,000 for standard events.

But I have little doubt there will always be a PBA in some form.

And that includes the Regional Tour, which has been in the black and does a lot to generate grassroots interest in top-level bowling.

The Senior Tour I am less sure about, which is sad for me since I'll turn 50 in July 2012.

BJI reported Thursday that PBA will meet with the players next Wednesday to outline its plans for the 2010-11 season. So stay tuned.

mrbowling300

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From the Bowlers Journal website:

Will Peters leave?

March 11th, 2010  |  Published in Inside Line

BY BOB JOHNSON, EDITOR

CHRIS PETERS, the entrepreneur who organized a partnership group that saved the Professional Bowlers Association from going under 10 years ago when the organization was on the verge of bankruptcy, will play a more limited role in the future, PBA Commissioner Fred Schreyer confirmed today.

“Chris does not want to continue to participate at the levels he has in the past,” Schreyer said. “It’s likely he won’t play the same role going forward, and won’t participate in future financing rounds.”

Peters and partners Rob Glaser and Mike Slade have poured tens of millions of dollars into the PBA over the past decade, seeking a business model that would transform it from a money-bleeding sports league into a money-making one. But according to Schreyer, the PBA has finished only one fiscal year in the black during that time.

The PBA was able to survive the sudden economic downturn that gripped the United States at the end of 2008 primarily because a number of long-term sponsorship deals were in place. That made for relatively smooth sailing through the 2008-09 season.

But this season, H&R Block, CLR, Edward Jones and Flomax all have departed as sponsors, leaving the PBA with revenues far below expectations.

“As a whole, the last four years have been a lot better than the first six,” Schreyer noted. “We now have a pretty good idea of how this business performs in a normal economic situation. But we’re incurring a more sizable loss than was projected and budgeted for, and that eats into your capital.”

Does this mean the end is near for the PBA?

While Peters, who has been “the face” of the partnership group, is backing off, the two other partners remain — and remain committed, according to Schreyer.

“They’re not going away, and they remain very supportive,”

Schreyer said of Glaser and Slade.

“They have a lot invested, so they’re not going to walk away from their investment. But at the same time, they’re evaluating how well their investment is performing, as one would in any business activity. I can assure you that they’ll not invest the same amount of money over the next 10 years as they did during the last 10.”

Schreyer emphasized that there is no rift among the partners.

“There’s no internal dissension, and they’re united in their belief that pro bowling can be a viable sport,” he said. “It’s just a matter of who wants to continue to accept financial responsibility for supporting the PBA. Chris is going to play a less prominent role, and exactly what that means remains to be seen.”

Meanwhile, planning for the 2010-11 season continues, and the PBA will meet with players next Wednesday to outline those plans.

A detailed report on Peters’ plans and the outlook for 2010-11 will appear in the April issue of Bowlers Journal International.

mrbowling300

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Reply with quote  #3 
Sadly, this news cannot be good for the future of the PBA.  We may be looking at the end of Pro Bowling, as we know it.
portsider

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So sad. But it's just a problem that the tour has had for many years now: How do you market the game to potential new, 'casual' sports fans? It's not like they haven't tried! I, personally, still believe that a possible solution could be the incorporation of touring pros with various professionals from mainstream sports. AKA the Chris Paul event. I mean let's face facts: As much as we all love the game, and would pretty much watch it in any form we can get it, You poll 100 non-bowling', casual sports fans, and 90 of them are probably NOT going to know who Chris Barnes is. But of those same 90, most all of them have probably heard of Chris Paul!

There are, more than likely, plenty of high profile, instantly recognizeable, atheletes from professional sports, who are fans enough of bowling, that they would welcome the chance to associate thier names and faces with it. That, I think, would give the tour, at least, a move in the direction of increased popularity and possibly increased sponsorships.

Now some bowling enthusiasts may think that a 'gimmick' like this would make a mockery of the sport, or reduce the sport to a sort of circus 'sideshow', or insult the integrity of the game, but.....we're not talking about the integrity of the sport here......we're talking about its survival! And let's face it, the tour has already been guilty of attempting to pass off a few 'circus sideshows' of it's own in the hope of higher ratings........(can you say...holding a team competition outdoors.....in 100+ degree tempratures, at SIX FLAGS!, et al).

I mean, sadly, although the tour has put together some new and unique formats in recent times, that have proven marginally interesting to dedicated fans of bowling, It is my humble opinion, that if the current tour is to have a prayer of turning a nice profit, and/or picking up new sponsorship, viewership, and fan support......, maybe they need to think outside the box, so to speak, and try to broaden their association with names that more casual sports fans can relate to, and get excited about. Also, you'd have to figure that ESPN, or any of its ilk, would have to get excited about jumping on an event(s) that included a lot of the sports stars that they ALREADY promote. Why not at least give it a try. Again, we're talking survival.

If sponsors continue to bail on the PBA, not only will it be impossible for anyone to make a living on the tour, but, in spite of all best efforts, it'll be a rarity for us to get to watch it. Such a tragedy for we who love it.


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djrickysmith

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In reality, the tour fell apart when people started to lose their jobs!!!  Having a house over your head or attending a PBA event live....I think we know which one is the obvious choice here.  And of course sponsorship is going to drop also.....I mean look at LL. The construction of new houses has fallen off the map.  They aren't making any money right now.  I don't care how much everyone knows your brand at this point.  No one has any money to do home improvements so why bother wasting anymore money right now.   Hell, I was checking into new technology jobs this week, such as FIOS, and they have a halt on installing new fiber optic cable networks.  This country is grinding down to a halt this year.  I don't think we have seen the worst yet.  I know in my state that they said they were going to be late in giving us our tax rebate checks.....you know that isn't sitting well.  I bet CT goes bankrupt this year!!!!


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themrfreeze

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Reply with quote  #6 
If anything, the economic downturn should IMPROVE TV viewership, since more people are home instead of working, and are spending less on out-of-home entertainment (vacations, going to the movies, dinner out, BOWLING, etc.).

I think there are enough active bowlers to keep televised PBA viewership numbers at an acceptable number. The issue is the CONTENT...there's no effort to RELATE to the viewers, and thus, get them interested. Viewers want to learn how to bowl better, but there are no tips. They may want to see great names from the past, but no seniors are televised. The only thing that's worked so far has been the plastic ball championship, since so many causal or novice bowlers can relate to bowling with one. And guess what, it generated a LOT of interest in the telecast last year. For one week.

A few ideas:

1) A urethane ball tournament (would you expect any LESS from me?)

2) Bring back the regular/senior pro doubles tournament. I'd love to see Scroggins & Petraglia kick some butt together.

3) Have a tournament where three matches are televised...the pro finals, the women's finals, and the senior's finals.

4) Stop making each bowling center look the same by covering up the masking units, blocking views with stands, etc. Why travel around if it looks like you're bowling in the same place every week?

5) Less Randy Petersen, more, um, anybody else. I'd love to hear Bo Burton and Mike Durbin do a telecast together.

6) Re-introduce the "Tip of the Week", and make it meaningful.

7) Have a finals where the pros have no idea what the oil pattern is, and have 5 minutes of practice to figure it out. AND, televise the practice. AND, talk to the pros in real-time so they can explain their process for figuring things out.

8) Have a "beat the pro" match, where a local bowler wins the chance to bowl a pro on TV (say, the pro who just misses making the regular telecast) for a few bucks.

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by themrfreeze


A few ideas:

1) A urethane ball tournament (would you expect any LESS from me?)

2) Bring back the regular/senior pro doubles tournament. I'd love to see Scroggins & Petraglia kick some butt together.

3) Have a tournament where three matches are televised...the pro finals, the women's finals, and the senior's finals.

4) Stop making each bowling center look the same by covering up the masking units, blocking views with stands, etc. Why travel around if it looks like you're bowling in the same place every week?

5) Less Randy Petersen, more, um, anybody else. I'd love to hear Bo Burton and Mike Durbin do a telecast together.

6) Re-introduce the "Tip of the Week", and make it meaningful.

7) Have a finals where the pros have no idea what the oil pattern is, and have 5 minutes of practice to figure it out. AND, televise the practice. AND, talk to the pros in real-time so they can explain their process for figuring things out.

8) Have a "beat the pro" match, where a local bowler wins the chance to bowl a pro on TV (say, the pro who just misses making the regular telecast) for a few bucks.



Excellent suggestions. And I think no.8, in particular, is outstanding.

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Bowler4Ever

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Reply with quote  #8 
The PBA needs to find new places to bowl in, it stays in the same centers every year. They've never had tournaments in New England, other than in CT. They need to expand their horizons.

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themrfreeze

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Reply with quote  #9 
I think it's more a matter of what centers are willing to cough up the many tens of thousands of dollars necessary to host an event.  As big a bowling city as we are, and with our history of hosting PBA events in the 80s and 90s, I can't think of one center doing well enough to afford the "privilege".



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