January 10, 2008 19:00
By Lucas Wiseman, USBC
One of the sport of bowling's most prestigious events, the United States Bowling Congress Masters, will reunite with the tradition-rich USBC Open Championships next season.
The two events, which were united together from the Masters inception in 1951 until 2001, will be conducted at Cashman Center in Las Vegas in 2009. The Masters is tentatively scheduled to be held Feb. 8-15, 2009, with the Open Championships beginning shortly thereafter.
"These events really complement each other and this move brings back some of the tradition these events have shared in the past," USBC Chief Operating Officer Kevin Dornberger said. "The Masters will be the perfect kickoff to the Open Championships and the unique venue is unmatched in the sport of bowling."
The events will be conducted on 56 specially constructed lanes inside Cashman Center, creating a stadium setting and enhancing the event for spectators as well as competitors.
For the past four years, the Masters has enjoyed a successful run in suburban Milwaukee, with the television finals being held at Miller Park in 2004 and 2007. Although the Masters will not be conducted during the 2008 calendar year, it will remain one of four major events on the Denny's Professional Bowlers Association Tour schedule for the 2008-09 season.
"We are looking forward to repositioning the USBC Masters and are intrigued to see what the change in location and timing will do for attendance, media coverage and TV ratings," PBA Commissioner and CEO Fred Schreyer said. "We have a great partnership with the USBC and while Milwaukee has been an outstanding host for the Masters in recent years, we agreed with the USBC that some changes were needed to maximize the amount of attention this prestigious event will receive."
With the move to February, the Masters television finals will no longer go up against the National Football League, paving the way for an increase in mainstream media exposure and higher television ratings.
"The Masters is now positioned to achieve maximum television ratings and our hope is to expose this great event to an even bigger audience," USBC Vice President of Marketing and Communications Tom Clark said. "The plan is to build the Masters into the pinnacle week in the sport of bowling and this is a move in that direction."
In 1951, the Masters began as an invitational event showcasing national and local bowling stars and has grown to become bowling's most prestigious event. The tournament draws nearly 500 of the best professional and amateur bowlers in the world competing for a prize fund of more than $350,000.
The Open Championships, which was held for the first time in 1901, is the world's largest participatory sporting event. The 2009 event in Las Vegas is scheduled to run at least five months and is expected to draw more than 80,000 bowlers from across the world.
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