By Brooke Meenachan LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (NCC News) – One of the four major bowling tournaments of the Professional Bowlers Association is taking place in Central New York this week.
It’s all thanks to a local bowling alley employee who was at the right place at the right time to make it happen.
Flamingo Bowl Pro Shop owner Mike McCracken was at one of the most popular bowling conventions last year when he found out the United States Bowling Congress was still searching for a place to hold one of its national tournaments.
“I was having lunch. I got to lunch late. There was one seat open and the only seat was next to the executive director of the USBC [Chad Murphy],” McCracken said.
The two struck up a conversation, which led to Liverpool’s Flamingo Bowl landing the U.S. Open.
“Geographically, it’s really perfect for the U.S. Open. We’ve got big metropolitan cities in Pennsylvania and New York,” McCracken said.
According to a drive time study done by USBC, Central New York is one of the top locations for bowling events because most bowlers live in the Northeast and Midwest parts of the country, which makes Central New York an equal driving distance for everyone.
The 73rd U.S. Open will feature nearly 150 bowlers. Each spot is earned by invitation or qualification.
While the U.S. Open draws in dozens of bowlers from across the country, McCracken says it’s also expected to bring in hundreds of fans.
“I think we could see two hundred, maybe four hundred people a day,” he said. “People have been calling and buying tickets from Virginia and Canada and all over the East Coast. I know people from Rochester that are coming, people from Binghamton that are coming. There’s a lot of bowling enthusiasts and it’s not often you get an event like this that’s in your backyard.”
Even though McCracken expects the event to draw a large crowd, he says Flamingo Bowl doesn’t expect to make a profit.
“Where a lot of people see all these people coming through the doors, we’re not going to do the revenue we normally do,” McCracken said.
That’s because the business the bowling alley is replacing with the tournament is greater than what they think the tournament will bring in.
“When you look at just charging people a gate price and they may or may not eat or drink, it’s a little scary,” he said. “We’re not really sure where we’re going to be but we’re looking at this from a cross-benefit analysis and it’s looking like it’s going to be more as an outlay than it is a big cash reward.”
McCracken says the business is fine with that. The real reward is drawing people to Flamingo Bowl and bringing more attention to bowling in Central New York.
The U.S. Open is taking place through November 1 and is open to the public. The finals will be televised on the final day on CBS Sports Network.
The tournament is just one of three major bowling events coming to Central New York. The USBC Open Championships and the Masters will be held at the Oncenter next year.