JANUARY 22 IS OUR DAY An open letter from PBA Commissioner and CEO Fred Schreyer and Deputy Commissioner and COO Tom Clark
In a few short weeks, the PBA Tournament of Champions finals will air live on ESPN on ABC from Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas. It will mark the return of pro bowling to ABC (its home for 36 consecutive years from 1961-1997), after 14 years.
The live airing will be on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 22, at 2:30 pm ET (1:30 pm CT, 11:30 am PT). Yes, Saturday afternoon, where it historically aired for all those years on ABC.
At stake will be the richest prize in the history of professional bowling: $250,000 to the winner, plus the most coveted trophy in the game.
The purse for the tournament is $1 million, also the largest in the history of pro bowling.
It will be the first live bowling event ever airing on TV in high-definition.
It will be a 4-man stepladder finals. Viewers will not miss a frame throughout the entire stepladder.
The championship match will air completely uninterrupted.
There are no NFL games up against it on other networks.
The final four field will be decided after a long format of 60 games of bowling (74 if advancing through the Champions field) at Red Rock Lanes, including a traditional 24-game round robin to close out match play.
The tournament field for the first time is open to any PBA titlist in history from not only National Tour events but Regional, Senior and Women’s Series events, including the current exempt field. At least 20 of the 50 greatest players in the history of the PBA will be entered.
The event itself will pay out a spectacular prize fund unlike any tournament in bowling history. First place is guaranteed $250,000. Second place $100,000. Third place $50,000, fourth place $40,000. Sixteenth place pays $16,000. Twenty-fourth pays $8,000 and 70th (based on 280 entries) pays $2,000.
Nelson Burton Jr., who was the lead analyst and color commentator for the Pro Bowlers Tour shows partnering with legendary Chris Schenkel on ABC for 23 years, will be back as part of the broadcast team.
Former Miss USA Kimberly Pressler will be the sideline reporter.
PBA Hall of Fame inductee Randy Pedersen and ESPN play-by-play man Rob Stone will call the action. Pedersen will be inducted into the Hall later that same Saturday evening at the celebration dinner at Red Rock.
The popular band ‘Bowling for Soup’ will perform its new single “Saturday Night” during the telecast from a stage on the lanes.
A sell-out crowd of over 600 bowling fans will pack into the center and surround the competition lanes.
Coverage of every round of the event will air live on ‘Xtra Frame,’ the PBA’s online video service on pba.com. That is over 50 hours of live coverage during the week of Jan. 15-22, plus interviews and deep analysis from experts from all the PBA Product Registered companies. On the ABC-TV show day, a live pre-game and post-game show will be web-cast on Xtra Frame.
The BPAA’s Mid-winter Summit will take place at Red Rock that week, with many of the leading proprietors in the game present.
The largest contingent from the Bowling Writers Association of America for any PBA event this year will be on site.
Long the signature event of the PBA, the TOC has seen some of the most memorable moments in the history of the game. Don Johnson’s 299 game in 1970 on ABC remains perhaps the most indelible moment in the history of the sport. Last year’s PBA Tournament of Champions provided one of the most historic moments in the history of women’s sports, when Kelly Kulick became the first woman to win a PBA Tour event. Kulick will be back to defend her title. A new moment is sure to be added to the lore.
This is going to be big.
Bowling fans, this is what you have wanted.
Now, it is your turn. We want your help.
Please demand coverage of this event from your local media.
Call your sports editor, ask for the agate listings of the standings each day.
Write an e-mail to your favorite sportswriter or sportscaster, tell them there is a great story about to happen in bowling and a local player is involved.
Demand coverage from national media. Write e-mails to national magazines, newspapers, TV shows, TV networks, web sites. Tell them the biggest professional bowling tournament in the history of the game is happening right now.
Thank the sponsors you see on the show. Thank them with an e-mail or with your patronage, for providing the support and associating their brand with this event.
Tell a friend about the PBA Tournament of Champions. Tell them it’s back on ABC. Tell them it’s for $250,000 for first place. Talk about the event’s twists and turns all week. Talk about it at your bowling league night, or online, or at work.
If you can’t be there by making a trip of it, follow the scores on pba.com as they happen. Follow game-by-game during the qualifying, frame-by-frame during the match play portions.
Get Xtra Frame and watch the week unfold live. There is sure to be emotion, intensity and most of all, great bowling.
Root hard for your favorite players. Wish them luck on their facebook pages. Rally support locally for hometown favorites at their home bowling centers.
Friends, the primary goal of this event is for it simply to be the greatest tournament in the history of bowling. Nothing less. As a result, we can show ESPN and ABC the power of our fans. We can show current sponsors and potential sponsors the value of associating themselves with the PBA. We can teach the media that it will be worth their time and resources to cover the PBA and specifically this event.
Together we can make the PBA Tournament of Champions join the A-list calendar of major individual sporting events along with the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, Wimbledon, the Tour de France, Daytona 500 and golf’s Masters.
Thank you for supporting the PBA.
Enjoy the show.
Fred and Tom