PBA to return in November
Thanks to the turnout the Professional Bowlers Association received when it came to Western New York in February, the best bowlers in the world will return to Cheektowaga's AMF Thruway Lanes in November for the Empire State Classic.
The PBA announced its 2006-07 schedule last week. Thirteen of the 21 venues are return stops from the 2005-06 season, including Cheektowaga.
The 2006 Geico Classic in February was one of the fastest events to sell out in the past two years for the PBA, according to Assistant Tournament Director Corey Kistner. That is one of the main reasons the powers-that-be decided Western New York should get a repeat performance.
"We always enjoy when the popularity of an event is that good," PBA Tour
Director Kirk von Krueger said. "I think Buffalo was starving for the PBA and the fans turned out to see it."
It's no secret bowling is hugely popular in Western New York. In Cheektowaga and Depew, it's practically a religion. So, when the PBA returned after a 15-year layoff, it was a major deal.
"The atmosphere was electric," Thruway Lanes Assistant Manager Roy Decibus said of February's event. "It was really high energy. The spectators loved it and the bowlers liked it.
"It's just as exciting to have them come back next season. It's a wonderful showcase for Western New York to have the bowlers come back. It's a great bowling region. We all like having the pros here."
To prepare for February's tour stop, Thruway Lanes added bleachers to accommodate the fans and 15 new phone lines. This time around, things shouldn't be as hectic. There's a sense of confidence and calm about setting up the lanes.
"Everything went smoothly," Decibus said. "We're looking to build on last year's success."
Several factors play into deciding where to host events. Along with geography and travel constraints, the PBA takes the building itself into consideration.
"We're looking for centers that are fan-friendly with large concourses and high ceilings," von Krueger said. "They need to be modern. The key thing is that they have to be large enough for the fans and have high ceilings for our TV cameras."
Thanks to the efforts of Chase, Decibus and the managers of the other AMF centers in Western New York, February's tournament went off without a hitch. The fans turned out in droves and the PBA quickly learned the decision to return to Buffalo was a good one.
"I think it's pretty obvious that Buffalo is a great area with great and knowledgeable fans," von Krueger said. "We were just away for too long. Last year's event was great and the center did a good job. It was very well run."
The Empire State Classic is the fourth stop on the road for the tour. The season opens with the Dydo Japan Cup Sept. 20-24 in Toyko, Japan. The season-opener in the United States is the USBC Masters Oct. 24-29 in Wauwatosa, Wis.
The season ends with the PBA Tournament of Champions March 28-April 1 in Windsor Locks, Conn.