Cyber Report #1076

E-dition No. 1,076 • Friday, September 13, 2019

Editor: Bob Johnson (bjibob@aol.com)

PBA’s Success on FOX Helped Seal Bowlero Deal

It would be difficult to imagine a scenario that would supplant Bowlero Corp.’s acquisition of the Professional Bowlers Association as BJI’s “Business Story of the Year” for 2019.

As BJI Editor Gianmarc Manzione reported exclusively in Cyber Report No. 1,075 and across BJI’s digital platforms on Tuesday, Bowlero Corp. has acquired the PBA for an undisclosed sum. The deal ended approximately three years of “dancing” between the two organizations, as a deal was first attempted in 2016 and then again in 2017.

A few weeks ago, bowling’s rumor mill fired up when it was leaked that talks once again were under way. But until principles signed on the dotted the line, the chatter amounted to little more than unsubstantiated supposition. As Bowlero’s Chief Customer Officer, Colie Edison, put it, “There’s always moving parts with these deals. There were complications where we couldn’t get it done previously.”

So what changed since the second negotiation?

“Right now, the PBA is ripe for growth,” Edison told BJI. “The partnership with FOX has created tremendous momentum that we want to get behind. It’s the right time for both parties, the PBA and Bowlero, to make this deal.”

Interest in the deal is so widespread because it touches, in one way or another, virtually every aspect of the industry:

* Bowling ball, accessory, shoe and shirt manufacturers, many of which have registration deals with the PBA.

* Bowling center owners, some of whom are concerned that PBA competition will become limited to Bowlero centers. (That will not be the case, Edison said.)

* Bowling fans, many of whom are concerned that PBA telecasts will morph into little more than commercials for Bowlero centers.

To the last point, Edison acknowledged that fans certainly can expect to see and hear the Bowlero name more often, but not necessarily for the reasons some have cited.

“Bowlero has always been a multifaceted company,” Edison explained. “We are not only an experience and a bowling center business, we’re also an e-commerce and a marketing business and we have great financial minds here, but we’ve also been pursuing media very heavily… For us as a media business, this was a perfect opportunity to partner with FOX, partner with the PBA, and further establish ourselves as a media entity.”

A quick look at the transaction:

* Edison becomes CEO of the PBA, while Tom Clark remains as Commissioner.

* There is no impact on the PBA’s 2020 schedule as it is currently comprised.

* There is no impact on the PBA’s deal with FOX. “Millions of Americans love to bowl and love to watch professional bowling,” said Bill Wanger, FOX Sports EVP, Head of Programming & Scheduling. ”Bringing Bowlero, the PBA and FOX Sports together allows us to elevate the sport and meet a large and increasingly growing audience demand.”

* There also is no impact on the steaming deal with FloBowling.

* Bowlero, which has been hosting its Bowlero Elite Series on NBCSN, a competing network, will honor that contract with NBCSN for this year. (Anthony Simonsen won the $100,000 first prize on the Elite Series telecast that aired last night.) Edison said Bowlero “will probably not know where the future of BES goes until we are a little bit further along with our ownership of the PBA.”

* Bowlero’s ownership of the PBA does not mean PBA Tour events will be held only at Bowlero centers. “That is not our plan,” Edison said.

Interest in Bowlero/PBA Deal Is Unprecedented

Two things are certain: Those in the bowling business understand the importance of the pro tours to the overall health of the industry, and bowling fans are engaged on social media.

Take a look at these statistics, as of Thursday morning, relating to BJI’s coverage of the Bowlero Corp./PBA deal:

* The Bowlero story crashed BowlersJournal.com for more than an hour.

* BJI’s podcast with Colie Edison had garnered nearly 1,500 plays in 48 hours from 24 different countries.

* BJI’s Facebook posts about the transaction collectively reached more than 20,000 people, generated 2,080 reactions, comments and shares, and garnered 4,735 post clicks.

* The BCM website’s post of an updated story that included information on whether PBA tournaments would be limited to Bowlero centers broke records for readership on that site.

Let the competition begin for the No. 2 “Business Story of the Year.”

Kilroy’ Raises $71,000 and Counting for BVL

Kilroy’s Appalachian Trail Hike for Veterans began on April 3, and 160 days and 5 million steps later, the journey ended on Sept. 9.  Along the way, Texas proprietor David “Kilroy” Kellerman raised more than $71,000 for the Bowlers to Veterans Link.

“My Appalachian Trail adventure would never have happened if not for the freedoms given to me as a United States citizen,” Kellerman said. “My freedoms are not free. They are protected every day by the great men and women… in our military. I dedicated my hike to them by raising funds for the bowling industry’s charity — the Bowlers to Veterans Link.”

The journey encompassed 2,192 miles across 14 states, from Georgia to Maine. And it wasn’t all flat terrain. The highest point of the trail, Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, is 6,643 feet above sea level.

“What an adventure,” Kellerman said. “I hope more bowling proprietors are now aware of our great foundation. I also hope they will engage in fundraising efforts for BVL to help those who protect our freedoms, our active-duty military and veterans. Remember, freedom is not free.”

We’ll have more on Kellerman’s hike and ongoing fundraising efforts in next week’s Cyber Report.

2017 Proprietor of the Year to Expand Center

Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Neb., has unveiled a $4 million expansion and renovation project.

The center, which opened its doors in 1977, is expanding its entertainment and recreation offerings to become Lincoln’s first hybrid entertainment center.

According to proprietor John Losito, the 2007 BPAA Proprietor of the Year, the new Sun Valley Lanes and Games will offer 32 lanes of traditional bowling (with all lanes equipped with QubicaAMF’s Hyper Bowling), an expanded arcade, an expanded kitchen and lounge, an outdoor patio, a new bowling pro shop, a two-level laser tag arena, three sand volleyball courts, and a revolutionary new style of mini golf that is scheduled to debut later this year.

By building a new 6,250-sq.-ft. expansion, as well as purchasing an adjacent 25,000-sq.-ft. property, Sun Valley Lanes and Games will expand on its “elevated bowling experience” by bringing that same elevated experience to laser tag, mini-golf and volleyball, becoming a 60,000-sq.-ft. recreation destination.

“We have become known as a world-class bowling facility and we wanted to bring that same level of fun to other activities, as well as improve upon our food-and-beverage options,” Losito said. “Besides taking the fun to the next level in multiple activities, we expect to do the same with our food and beverages as well.”

Michigan Center to Be Redeveloped… But Not for Bowling

A contaminated property in Trenton, Mich., will be redeveloped as an entertainment venue with help from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The city of Trenton was awarded a $250,000 Brownfield Redevelopment Grant to revitalize and safely reuse the former Trenton Lanes, which was built on the site of an old gas station. Soil and groundwater are contaminated with solvents and gasoline from that former station. The Brownfield grant will be used to remove contaminated soil and install barriers and a ventilation system to prevent exposure to harmful vapors.

Fourth Wheel LLC will use the building for an entertainment center with a restaurant and bar, arcade-style video games, golf simulators, and bicycle rentals. The venue will feature a removable roller rink in the area of the former bowling lanes that also can convert into a large space for games such as fowling and cornhole. The $750,000 redevelopment will create more than 30 new jobs.

EGLE partners with communities to protect public health and the environment and revitalize contaminated property. EGLE grants and loans pay for environmental investigation and cleanup on brownfields, which are vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected environmental contamination.

Free Education Event for Maryland Proprietors

All bowling center operators — tenpin and duckpin — in the state of Maryland are invited to attend a free Education Day on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

The gathering will include two educational sessions from BPAA’s Bowling University.

The first will focus on outside sales for non-sales people, and will help center operators set goals, generate leads and close new business.

The second comes from Bowling University’s new Security Awareness Series, and will provide useful information on dealing with an active shooter, handling a robbery and incident reporting.

Lunch will be included at this free event. For more information or to reserve your spot, contact Bart Burger at 817-385-8405 or bart@bpaa.com.

BJI Design Awards Entry Deadline Is Today

The entry deadline for the 35th annual BJI Bowling Center Architecture and Design Awards — the industry’s only awards program that recognizes and encourages the construction and modernization of bowling facilities worldwide — is today (Friday, Sept. 13).

This year’s competition is open to projects that were completed after Aug. 1, 2018. Download an entry form here: http://www.bowlersjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019-Arch-Award-Form.pdf.

Other News You Can Use…

* The guest this week on Phantom Radio is bowling writer Fred Eisenhammer. To listen to the conversation, go to https://kegel.squarespace.com/phantomblog/2019/9/11/fred-eisenhammer-phantom-radio.

* CONTACT: Please send business news, event information, etc. to Bob Johnson at bjibob@aol.com. For breaking business news, visit bcmmag.com or bowlersjournal.com, and “Like” Bowling Center Management and Bowlers Journal International on Facebook. BJI Cyber Reports are now archived at bcmmag.com. Please remember that the Cyber Report is a B-to-B publication, not to be shared with consumers.

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