SBD/January 20, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PBA Tour Tournament Of Champions Purse Hits $1M For First Time

PBA Tour to offer richest first-place prize ever at Tournament Of Champions
The Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour, which "has struggled to attract sponsors and stay afloat for years," is throwing "what might be considered a Hail Mary pass with this week's Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas," according to Bob Velin of USA TODAY. The Tour is "throwing big money into the TOC, one of its majors," as it "has upped the purse to $1 million, the first seven-figure purse in bowling history." The $250,000 winner's prize is the "richest the sport has ever seen." This week's tournament final also "has moved to Saturday on ABC for the first time" since '96, "when bowling was one of the network's signature Saturday afternoon staples." The PBA "has a three-year deal to put the Tournament of Champions on ABC." PBA Commissioner & CEO Fred Schreyer said a "big part of what we're trying to do is carve out a place on the sports calendar for ourselves and create a signature weekend for bowling and the PBA." PBA HOFer Nelson Burton Jr., who will host ABC's coverage of the event, credits PBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Tom Clark with "taking a huge gamble and putting a good chunk of the PBA's eggs into one basket with this event." Burton: "Clark is an innovator ... willing to take some chances and get the biggest bang for their buck." Schreyer said that he "anticipates a spike in the TV ratings with the switch to ABC." Schreyer: "We've been a Sunday, 1 p.m., ESPN property for years. This is Saturday, 2:30 on ABC. Our only concern is that people are aware of the shift" (USA TODAY, 1/19). In Las Vegas, Jeff Wolf noted the first-place check Saturday "will be 2½ times more than the previous best for a winner in the PBA's 52-year history," and it "wasn't until 1989 that a pro bowler won that much for an entire season." Bowler Pete Weber: "I always imagined we'd bowl for that much money, but I didn't expect it now." Clark "hopes the sizable winner's check will help increase viewership." Clark: "The pressure of the moment is going to make the bowlers' emotions come out, and that's what you need" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/19).
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