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PORTLAND, Maine – Excitement over the PBA’s first-ever visit to Maine began to rise Thursday when PBA Commissioner Tom Clark met with business and tourism leaders and the news media to announce plans for the 2015 PBA League’s Elias Cup championship weekend March 27-29 at Bayside Bowl in Portland.
“We are very pleased with the interest of Maine businesses and the bowling industry to share our commitment to bringing the PBA to this market,” Clark told the gathering. “Maine is very attractive to the PBA as a destination to showcase the best bowlers in the world to a growing and vibrant bowling fan community.”
The PBA League event will involve a limited field of 40 players, but those 40, Clark noted, will include the best bowlers in the world. Among them will be PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte of Australia, Osku Palermaa of Finland, Sean Rash, Chris Barnes, hall of famers Pete Weber and Norm Duke, among others.
“This would be the equivalent of (golfers) Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy playing at Riverside,” said Charlie Mitchell, owner of the Bayside Bowl, a contemporary 12-lane bowling center that will provide an intimate, arena-style setting for the team competition.
Shamrock Sports and Entertainment owner Brian Corcoran, who played a key role in securing the event for Portland, said a national PBA event could be held at Bayside because “unlike the Super Bowl that needs a (gigantic) stadium, the unique nature of the PBA is that you can take it anywhere.”
Only two lanes will be used and most of the remaining space will be devoted to the needs of television and spectator seating. Mitchell expects the entire event to be a sell-out. Tickets will be available soon via Bayside’s website, baysidebowl.com.
Mitchell said the decision to host the event was an easy one to make.
“If you had a small first-class gym and had a chance to get the Celtics, you would,” he said. “This is something special. It’s having the pinnacle of the sport right here.”
The event is expected to draw an estimated $1.5 million to the local economy, according to Lynn Tollitson, the CEO of the Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“March is a very slow season for us, so this comes at a time when thousands of hotel rooms would sit empty,” she said in the release. “This PBA event is going to be a great shot in the arm to our retail shops and restaurants at the right time.”
The PBA League consists of eight teams of five players each. They will compete for a projected $250,000 in prize money over the March 27-29 weekend. Four rounds of PBA League competition will be conducted for delayed telecast on ESPN on four consecutive Sundays: March 29, April 5, 12 and 19. The rosters for the PBA League team will be determined during a draft that will take place on Friday, Oct. 31, during the PBA World Series of Bowling VI in Las Vegas. The draft will be webcast live on PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame.
Bowling fans in Maine will be able to watch the draft during a special “draft party” hosted by Bayside Bowl on Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. Eastern (noon Pacific).
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