6 SHORTS • BPAA Service Awards • PeopleWatching galore! • Big Lebowski spinoff set for spring • Contract extension for Chad Murphy • Bowl Expo to host PWBA/PBA mixed doubles with live TV coverage
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
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34 TRADE SHOW
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Swing into Amusement Expo in New Orleans and get a beat on business
By Howard McAuliffe
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath
40 CENTER STAGE Refreshed
By Patty Heath
The National Bowling Stadium in Reno gets a $4.5 million facelift By David Garber
David Garber Jim Goodwin Patty Heath Evan Henerson Howard McAuliffe
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46 REMEMBER WHEN
Duck Dynasty At Silverlake The Family Place, new duckpin bowling lanes are a natural extension of the business
1970 ‘Confessions of an Anchor Man’
By Evan Henerson
By Patty Heath 22
42 Classifieds 22 COVER STORY Bowling Industry Pioneers and Personas Legends Larry Lichstein and Lenny Nicholson reflect on their life-long friendship By Jim Goodwin
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HOTLINE: 818-789-2695 SUBSCRIPTION RATES: One copy of International Bowling Industry is sent free to every bowling center, independently owned pro shop and collegiate bowling center in the U.S., and every military bowling center and pro shop worldwide. Publisher reserves the right to provide free subscriptions to those individuals who meet publication qualifications. Additional subscriptions may be purchased for delivery in the U.S. for $60 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2020, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
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PEOPLEWATCHING Switch® International, bowling equipment manufacturer, has announced that Enis Çönkü has joined its sales team as international sales manager. Based in Izmir, Turkey, he will oversee the sales team and cover all global markets. Çönkü brings over 10 years of sales experience in both the automotive and spare parts industries. Supporting Switch’s strategic direction of strengthening customer relations and expanding global sales, Çönkü will reach out to existing customers while developing Enis Çönkü new partnerships.
Betson, a division of H. Betti Industries, Inc., a worldwide distributor of arcade and amusement equipment, parts, and service, has three new regional sales managers: Joe Herbert, based out of Betson’s Florida office, will cover the Southeast region; Brandon Horton, based out of Betson’s Texas Brandon Horton office, will assist in managing the Southwest region; and Steve Lamoreaux, based out of Betson’s Utah office, will assist with the Mountain states and Pacific Northwest regions.
Trifecta Management Group, a premier entertainment/ restaurant concept development, management, and consulting firm, has announced that Pat Hart, COO, and Bridget Smith,
CMO, are new partners in the company. Hart manages the day-to-day operations, culinary development, business expansion, concept development, and market analysis. Smith spearheads the advertising, marketing, and sales efforts for Trifecta’s Pat Hart entertainment venues. “Theirs [Hart and Smith] are insightful new voices as we chart and implement the strategy for the next phase of Trifecta’s journey,” stated Bruce Nussbaum, a founding managing partner Bridget Smith with Ron Lam. With a combined 50 years of bowling industry experience, former Ebonite International employees Randy Teitloff and Rich Hanson will join Brunswick Bowling Products. Teitloff’s position will be director of research and development, while Hanson has been named product manager for bowling balls. Also, Bryan Randy Teitloff Buckosh, new to the bowling industry, has been hired as a design engineer for bowling balls. Brian Graham, vice president of consumer and aftermarket products, said Brunswick is making a substantial commitment to its consumer product lines and looks forward to the development of amazing bowling ball innovations. Rich Hanson
REDEMPTION PLUS IMPLEMENTS A CO-CEO MODEL With a record year behind them, Redemption Plus® has announced a round of promotions. Following a co-CEO model, Christina Long and Michael Tipton have taken over the day-to-day operations of the 24-year-old Lenexa company in a co-leadership role. Long, now chief operations development officer, has been with the company for five and a half years. Tipton, vice president of sales and marketing since 2017, has spent years helping businesses grow. In addition to the co-leadership model, Redemption Plus has also announced the promotion of three employees. Tabatha Bender was promoted to marketing manager, Holly Shoaf was promoted to an account manager role, and Sadie Barker will be HR director. 6
TEN PIN ALLEY’S HEART & BOWL IBI ’s contributor Marci Williams spotlighted Ten Pin Alley in Hilliard, OH, in the July 2019 issue. Their charitable program, Heart & Bowl, is a stellar example of how a center can support its community while growing its business. The center announced its 2019 donations which totaled over $67,000. Through Heart & Bowl, 2% of revenue is donated throughout the year in direct partnership with the center’s guests. The guests, when settling their bill, decide which of the three charities chosen by Ten Pin Alley will receive their donation. Each charity receives a check every month for an entire year. Birthday parties and corporate events are also included in the 2% and have a large impact for the charities. Ten Pin Alley tries to keep the selected charity groups local and focuses on those that would benefit most from the money raised. It is a synergistic relationship that benefits everyone: the center; the charities; and satisfaction of the participating guests who help make the choice.
WATCH LEBOWSKI SPINOFF ON ITS WAY IBI has been following the on again, off again rumors for actor/director John Tuturro’s The Big Lebowski spinoff, The Jesus Rolls, reprising his role of Jesus Quintana, in the Coen brothers’ classic. Receiving the blessing of the Coens, Tuturro is not only bringing Jesus back, but he has penned the screenplay and is directing the film. Besides Tuturro, the film boasts Bobby Cannavale, Susan Sarandon, Jon Hamm, Audrey Tautou, Pete Davidson, and Christopher Walken. The release date is set for this spring.
What is your center doing? Email Patty Heath at email@example.com.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR CBS Sports Network will be televising 17 bowling competitions in 2020, featuring PWBA, collegiate, and youth events. The events below are to be televised live. Note that all times listed are Eastern Standard Time.
A BIG SMILE FOR BOWLING & DENTURES Renew, one-day anchored dentures, can put a smile on your face and fun in your bowling. That is the message for these anchored dentures. Bowling is social and that is the message for this commercial to encourage people to get back in life and fun... and bowl.
May 19 – USBC Queens, Las Vegas, at 8 p.m. June 30 – U.S. Women’s Open, Dallas, at 8 p.m. July 12 – PWBA Las Vegas Open, Las Vegas, at 9 p.m. August 8 – PWBA Greater Columbus Open, Columbus, Ohio, at 7:30 p.m. August 15 – PWBA Tennessee Open, Clarksville, TN, at 5 p.m. August 23 – PWBA Players Championship, Seminole, FL, at 5 p.m. TBA– PWBA Tour Championship
THE GOONIES IS 35 YEARS OLD It has been 35 years since The Goonies hit the screen and audiences went in search of treasure with a lovable band of kids from Astoria, OR. To celebrate what can only be called a cult film, Oregon Film and Travel Oregon will offer public screenings of the movie in five cities around the state, from March 21 in Coos Bay to April 23 in Eugene. The effort is to support the Oregon Film Museum and spotlight the official Goonies Day in Astoria, June 4-7. For further info: visit www.thegoondocks.org.
ß BITS & PIECES ß ß ß Presenting Sponsor of 2020 Junior Gold Brunswick Bowling Products and International Bowlng Campus Youth Development announced that Hammer, one of bowling’s most popular bowling ball brands, will be the presenting sponsor of the 2020 Junior Gold Championships, the premier national youth bowling tournament. The championships will be held July 10-18 in Las Vegas, and The Orleans will serve as the host hotel and site of the Opening Ceremony and trade show for the annual tournament. --------------------------------------------------------------------
UK’s Ten Entertainment’s Sales Jump Ten Entertainment, which operates 45 bowling sites in the UK, said it grew its annual sales by 10.2% after refurbishing some of its centers. Duncan Garrood, CEO, said, “We continue to innovate, increase our footprint, and improve the quality of our offering which positions us well for future growth.” --------------------------------------------------------------------
National Bowling Stadium celebrates its 25th Anniversary The National Bowling Stadium recently underwent $4.5 million in renovations. In January, it reopened and celebrated its 25th anniversary with free public bowling to mark the occasion. The updated venue will again be the site for the USBC Open Championships held this year from March 21 through July 4. See Center Stage on page 40. --------------------------------------------------------------------
Ventola shines its light on the Qatari Royal Palace Lighting specialists Ventola Projects recently completed another high-profile project in the United Arab Emirates at the Sheikh Abdullah Palace in Doha. The team provided an all-in-one lighting effect within the palace’s leisure facility, using white lighting, UV and color change to create mood and atmosphere while adding a touch of fun and excitement. The entire installation was completed in 10 days and utilized the latest eco-friendly technology to keep energy usages to a minimum.
BPAA’S 2020 SERVICE AWARDS RECIPIENTS The BPAA has announced its most prestigious service awards. The recipients will be honored during the 2020 International Bowl Expo, which will be held July 2-6 at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Denver. Each honoree has in their own way enhanced the business and sport of bowling. The Victor Lerner Memorial Medal, the highest honor awarded recognizing a lifetime of service, has been bestowed on Neil Hupfauer (Dallas-Fort Worth, TX), cited for his revolutionary FEC concept after selling the Main Event Entertainment chain and took on the role of COO for Cinergy Entertainment, which incorporated bowling with movie theatres. The V.A. Wapensky Award was given to Roger Philipi (Huntersville, NC), recognized for years of service at the local, state, and national levels. BPAA President Randy Thompson selected Andy Bartholomy (Springfield, MO) for the President’s Award citing Bartholomy’s decade-long leadership of the Member Benefits committee. Tim Mack (Indianapolis, IN) will be recognized with the Dick Weber Bowling Ambassador Award. Daroll and Dolores Frewing (Chino, CA) were selected for the Special Projects award for setting up a generous scholarship fund for a child or grandchild of a BPAA-member proprietor. The 2020 Media Award was awarded to Tom Clark (Milwaukee, WI), commissioner of the PBA, for his development of media products, including the PBA-FOX Sports television deal. Also recognized was the Sarasota Manatee USBC Association for its support and work with local member centers.
A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING Art Fort 321 in downtown Morganton, NC, is owned by artist Marcus Thomas, known by some as Urban Monk. It is comprised of a little bit of everything including racks holding 94 of the former Mimosa Lanes’ bowling balls, along with 140 of its bowling pins set up around the store. Thomas explained that he and record shop owner Stacey Peek went in and got all of Mimosa’s bowling balls. His explanation, “I’m a Dudeist, Big Lebowski , so thinking about it, I thought it would actually be sacrilegious if I didn’t get these bowling balls. I’ve kind of got this thing about salvaging things that slip through the cracks of Morganton. When do you get the chance to get 94 bowling balls?” Thomas describes Art Fort as an oddity of art and Morganton history. There’s something for everybody. “If you’re not into art, well, we’ve got 94 bowling balls.”
BUSINESS AT LARGE 8 APPLICATIONS FOR THE DAROLL AND DOLORES FREWING COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP ARE NOW BEING ACCEPTED. IBMHOF is accepting applications for the Daroll and Dolores Frewing College Scholarship through March 31. Applicants must be a son, daughter, or grandchild of a BPAA center owner and in their senior year of high school. The scholarship will be awarded to an applicant based on academic success and service to the community. Visit BowlingMuseum.com.
8 PWBA HALL OF FAME ELECTIONS
8 CHAD MURPHY’S TENURE EXTENDED
Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Carol Gianotti, and Pam Buckner will form the 2020 PWBA Hall of Fame class. All three players were selected in the performance category. The induction ceremony will take place May 13 in Las Vegas, in conjunction with the 2020 USBC Queens, a major event on the PWBA Tour.
Chad Murphy has agreed to a contract extension to continue as executive director of the USBC. The agreement extends Murphy’s tenure through the end of 2024. He was first named executive director in June 2014. Previously, Murphy was director of youth development.
8 MAIN EVENT ENTERTAINMENT AND THE DALLAS COWBOYS TEAM UP The NFL Dallas Cowboys and Main Event Entertainment have announced a new partnership. This is the first-ever such agreement with either organization. The multi-year agreement will offer Main Event a vast array of marketing rights, benefits, and designations connecting the brand with the Cowboys. A key component of the partnership will be the co-development of Cowboys-themed birthday party packages that will include Cowboys-branded party favors and gear.
8 KEGEL ACQUIRES PINSETTER PARTS PLUS Kegel announced the acquisition of Pinsetter Parts Plus (PPP), a Wisconsin-based pinsetter parts manufacturing company. Kegel will acquire the assets of PPP, and its line of products will be available under the Kegel brand.
8 BOWL CO WILL REOPEN ORANGE BOWL IN NEBRASKA Bowl Co, LLC, an Omaha-based bowling center marketing and management company, has recently acquired the former Orange Bowl located in Beatrice, NE, and will re-open it as the Family Bowl and Social of Beatrice. The center has operated since the late ‘50s. Steve Sempeck, owner and president of Bowl Co, said the 12lane center will be remodeled as a hybrid entertainment facility. “Our company—Bowl Co—specifically focuses on taking traditional centers that may be struggling or for sale and transitioning them into more of a hybrid.”
2020 BOWL EXPO TO HOST PWBA/PBA MIXED DOUBLES WITH LIVE TV COVERAGE International Bowl Expo will host a special made-for-TV event featuring the biggest names on the sport’s professional tours. The event will be held at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Denver, July 5, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time), on FS1. The two-hour show will have four mixed doubles teams representing the biggest brands in the sport— Brunswick, Hammer, Motiv, Storm—and Brunswick will build two lanes featuring their new Spark™ technology.
At Silverlake The Family Place, new duckpin bowling lanes are a natural extension of the business By Evan Henerson
The family that rolls together achieves fitness goals together.
K, there are undoubtedly catchier slogans, but in Erlanger, KY, at the everything-is-here destination known as Silverlake The Family Place, patrons will undoubtedly relate to the theme. After all, a Silverlake member can take aquatics classes, work up a sweat at the fitness center, dive in at the water park, scale the tallest Clip ‘n Climb in the United States, and navigate a three story ropes course among other options. The list goes on. And as of February 2019, members can also – for a small hourly fee — pick up a softball-sized ball with no finger holes and whiz it down a lane toward a set of deceptively easy looking smaller pins. That’s right... duckpin bowling has joined the lineup of Silverlake offerings. The eight lanes of duckpin are a key part of Silverlake’s aforementioned new $9 million, 55,000-
square-foot Active Entertainment Center. The addition of bowling is part of Silverlake’s evolution from a traditional, multi-purpose fitness facility to a center that offers multiple options for active family entertainment. You may not work up the same kind of sweat knocking down duckpins as you would navigating through a ropes course, but it’s all part of the same picture, according to Silverlake officials. As fitness director Dave Smith notes, “Exercise doesn’t have to feel like work.” Nor, in the case of an activity like duckpin bowling, does it even have to resemble exercise. “In evolving into our family fitness and active family entertainment, the whole idea was to get families doing things together as well as to offer things that kids can do while mom and dad are working out,” said Silverlake executive director Tim Geraci. “We’re trying to get kids actively exercising and they don’t even know it. Duckpin bowling was a crucial piece of the puzzle because that was something that whole families could do together, whether it’s 3- to 4-year-olds or grandparents.” “It’s been a big hit,” Geraci added. “I can’t stress enough how appealing it has been to all ages. The moms and dads come in with their 4- to 6-year-olds and sometimes they can beat mom and dad!” Geraci also pointed out that because Silverlake is a membership facility, the operators have to be eternally on the lookout for new activities and offerings to help extend the life of a membership. They know that as a family’s children get older, their interests naturally change. The same
FEATURE company who operates Silverlake also owns Better Bodies Fitness which is only a few short miles from Silverlake in Mitchell, KY. “We have a huge summer camp program, and the bowling has been another addition that the kids have been able to use during the summer,” Geraci said. “Our Active Entertainment Center was part of our master plan since 2002. We started by renovating the locker rooms and lobby, which we did in 2005, and the second part was building our outdoor water park in 2008. The third part of the master plan was the Active Entertainment Center.” While duckpin bowling has its roots on the east coast in New England and Baltimore, the operators of US Bowling, who oversaw the duckpin installation at Silverlake, are noticing a distinct migration of the game
The duckpin lanes at Silverlake are fun for everyone
to the Midwest and beyond. US Bowling had recently installed a series of duckpin lanes alongside traditional 10-pin lanes at Ocean 5 in Gig Harbor, WA. Silverlake’s interest in implementing duckpin seems to tie into a fast-developing interest in social bowling, said US Continued on page 20...
FEATURE ...Continued from page 16
Bowling officials, who also note that they have had at least four more duckpin installations since its addition to Silverlake. “I guess people are thinking of it as more than just a novelty,” said Bill Snoberger, national sales manager for US Bowling. “More power to them if they think they can generate more people coming down to bowl, eat, and drink. It’s an amenity that Silverlake has done really well and they’re deserving of all the success that they’re getting from it.” Silverlake’s lanes have custom 15 foot masking units, the PULSE Scoring Entertainment system and Soundbuster sidewall panels; US Bowling’s Mike Conejo came up with a jazzy graphic design that encompasses both. Silverlake was the company’s first effort at implementing lowered touchscreens. The install did not use the 24-volt string pin setters, but the setters that have been installed would be convertible with relative ease should the operators of Silverlake ever decide to swap out duckpin for 10-pin. Not that anybody is anticipating that happening anytime soon. Industry watchers have noted the success of Pins Mechanical, a chain of boutique drinking and gaming facilities sprouting up across Ohio that have implemented duckpin to the delight of its patrons. Pins Mechanical locations emphasize the appeal of social bowling, not having to worry about shoes, and the fun of enjoying a social evening holding an appetizer or cocktail in one hand and a duckpin ball in the other. “I think bowling — regardless if it’s duckpin, 10-pin, or mini bowling — is probably one of the most popular recreational activities that there is,” said Glenn Keenan, vice president of sales for US Bowling. “There are
The duckpin lanes have added value to the family memberships at Silverlake
The climbing wall has been a success for Silverlake
over 100 million people who bowl every year. Combining bowling with more sophisticated food and beverage menus, it’s a natural fit.” “We had a great experience working with them,” Keenan added. “I think the place looks phenomenal, and hopefully they have many years of success, and we’ll be there for them every step of the way.” ❖
Evan Henerson is a features and lifestyle journalist who lives in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in TV Guide, American Theatre, Orange Coast and the Los Angeles Daily News where he was a staff writer and critic for nine years.
A small sampling of the activities offered at Silverlake 20
Lenny Nicholson Larry Lichstein
By Jim Goodwin
BOWLING INDUSTRY PIONEERS AND PERSONAS Legends Larry Lichstein and Lenny Nicholson reflect on their life-long friendship
f you happen to have a Who’s Who in Bowling book handy, look up the word character, and you will find photos of Larry “Lichy” Lichstein and Lenny “Len” Nicholson. And for all who know them as well as we do, you also know that there was no shortage of material for this story. In Lichy’s case, one question usually generated a 20-minute response; Lenny couldn’t quite keep up that pace. However, our friends Larry and Lenny, affectionately known as Lichy and The Phantom, are much more than colorful characters telling bowling stories; both have made significant contributions to the game and to the careers of almost all of the greatest bowlers of our time. Some may not be aware that these two worked side-by-side on the PBA tour from the 1960s through the ‘80s and beyond. Both men are enshrined in the PBA Hall of Fame. Lichy was also inducted
COVER STORY into the USBC Hall of Fame in 2019. Len Nicholson, Their combined efforts and standing, and Sam dedication to excellence in providing Baca, kneeling, fair and consistent lane conditions developed lane maintenance into and drilling state-of-the-art balls has an exact science had a direct effect on hundreds of the best bowlers in history. Yes, this story has been told many times, sometimes by the subjects themselves, but we hope our readers will come away this time with a more complete picture of these two iconic figures after reading this story. We decided to link the two because they have been close friends for over 50 years, and it is almost impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other. Lichy was the player services director on the PBA tour from 1974 through 1996. The week that brought Nicholson and him together happened in San Jose, CA, in 1971. That week, there were 19 lefthanders in the PBA tournament. When the cut was made to the top 16 for the matchplay finals, all 16 were left-handed. “The only non-cashing lefty, a poor guy named Joe, was last seen headed toward a bridge,” joked Lenny. Lichy won the 1971 tournament — his first and only PBA national title. We have heard people say Lichy won only because he was a lefty, but Lenny has a different view. “If you think about it, Lichy beat all of the best lefthanders in the game that week,” Lenny said. “It was not like a normal week where most of the finalists were right handed. He had to beat Davis and Foremsky and all the rest because all of them were on his side of the lane. It might have been the toughest week ever for a lefty to win.” Shortly after that milestone event, the PBA commissioned Sam Baca and Lenny to start the first organized lane maintenance program. “Sam saw it coming because problems had been building, and he had asked me the year before to learn as much as I could about how the lanes were being done. So I spent a whole year taking notes and reporting to Sam,” said Lenny. “When they would ask me why I was there, I told them I was Billy Hardwick’s manager and they would let me stay. Then, when the disaster hit in San Jose, Sam was hired and he hired me, and we were off and running.” That was about the time Skee Foremsky dubbed Lenny ‘The Phantom’ because he worked in the wee hours of the night, and it stuck.
Lichy Learns Drilling from an Engineer Lichy was a respected player from the day he hit the tour. He averaged over 200 as a teenager after he switched from a 14 to a 16 pound ball and learned the fine art of drilling from his friend Len Sexton in his hometown of Hartford, CT. Sexton
was an engineer and machinist for the Pratt & Whitney Corporation who designed fuel systems for the P-38 aircraft during World War II. He became an avid bowler and opened a little hole-in-the-wall shop to drill bowling balls very near the Pratt & Whitney plant. “It was called the Bowlers Pro Shop,” said Lichy. “It was dirty and smelled like burned rubber, dust everywhere. It was like a coal mine.” With Sexton as his mentor, Lichy’s average went from the 160s to over 200 in a very short time. It was in that little shop that Lichy learned the importance of accuracy and detail in the art of ball drilling. “Sexton always used a compass for layouts and scribed the measurements. No grease pencils,” said Lichy. “I took that knowledge to the tour, and never changed. [Sexton] drilled like an engineer, and it was a valuable lesson. The only thing I didn’t like [about his method was] he would take an hour and a half to drill a ball. I didn’t have that luxury on tour.” When Lichy went into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1997, Sexton proudly shared the moment with him. Sexton died a few years later. “He taught me a lot about bowling, drilling, and about life. I loved him,” remembered Lichy. With his new-found knowledge and confidence, Lichy began bowling along the East coast, winning a few city and state titles. In his second state tournament, he won doubles, team, and allevents, and rolled the only 300 in the history of the event. When the PBA tour hit Hartford, he finished second to Don Helling as an amateur. “I was 18, only six months out of high school, and I knew I was ready for the tour,” he said. He was, indeed, ready and in 1969, he won the title in San Jose and was named PBA Rookie of the Year.
Getting It Together It took Baca and Lenny a couple of seasons to stabilize IBI
COVER STORY Lichstein receiving his USBC Hall o f Fame plaqu e from USBC president K arl Kielich
In those days, tour lane conditions. There were no the tour players state-of-the-art computerized lane and staff really were machines in those days, so Lenny a band of brothers. did the best he could with a spray When not on the gun on wood lanes that were very lanes, there were unpredictable, with challenges like card games at the humidity. Topography was not yet hotels, golf outings, even a baseball on the radar. team. In the bars, a few guys loved In a very short time, Lenny went to play a mind game called Golly from errand boy to one of the most Golly. “That game got the girls important people in the lives of the every time,” said Lichy. “I didn’t greatest bowlers in the world. After play much, but the G Squad guys Baca left the job, he was on his own. and Lenny were really good at it.” “When I decided to follow the Long-time tour director Harry tour with my best friend Billy Golden loved to play cards, Hardwick, I didn’t have a job, but a especially pan, and he would group of guys took me in and let me arrange hotel hospitality rooms stay in their room,” said Lenny. “It for the activity. It was not unusual was Butch Gearhart, Don Glover, and ll es as Bill Hall drills a ba Larry Lichstein watch to see pan and poker tables every Jim Godman. We called them the G week with 20 to 30 players. “I think it was his way of keeping Squad. I was their gopher. I would run an eye on his boys,” said Lichy. “And it did keep them from errands and do whatever they needed. They would give me spending too much time in the bars. I sat in on - no exaggeration twenty bucks a week and I was happy. I loved sports and it was - over 200 games with guys like Don Johnson, Sam Flanagan, fun just being around them. Billy and Lichy were good friends, Jimmy Certain, George Pappas, Roy Buckley, Dave Frame, and so I became friends with [Lichy], too.”
COVER STORY many more. They were good gamblers. They were very patient. I always lost because I was too emotional.” There were a few times when the games lasted all night. “I remember once when someone from the group fined himself for being late to roll call because he had been up all night playing cards,” said Lenny. Lichy confirmed that this was a true story. “We also had a really good baseball team,” said Lenny. “We played against local celebrities and we won every game. I was a catcher and Lichy played outfield. I remember Mike Berlin at third base. He was so good he could have played pro baseball.” “I helped manage the nd ng meticulously by ha team, and we were undefeated until one year we showed intenance, did everythi ma e lan of er ne pio a Nicholson, as up in Tucson and they brought in a semi-pro team to get us back because we beat them so bad the year before,” said Lichy. as The Year of the Soaker, and a fellow “I think they wiped us out, 17-3, and after that we didn’t play as much.” named Don McCune inadvertently Lenny got a reputation for being very good at another game – pitching quarters. changed the tour in a significant way. “I was the best until Earl Anthony came along,” joked Lenny. “Earl was so good he Lane conditions seemed to be stabilizing insisted that we pitch into an ashtray instead of the wall; and when we pitched to the after the ‘71 San Jose event, but in ‘73, wall, he made a rule that the coins could not touch the wall. He was unbelievable, and Lenny and many others were baffled when the only guy I could not beat like all the rest.” they saw McCune out hooking Mark Roth. In 1972, they added a product called STP, made famous at the Indianapolis 500, to the lane oil, and according to Lichy, the lanes were the tightest they had Lichy’s final full year as a bowler on the tour was a bizarre one. It later became known ever been. Everybody was forced to play in the track area within a board or two of the second arrow. In the eighth week of the ‘73 winter tour, McCune won his first title in Winston-Salem, NC. The following week in Milwaukee, he was getting a lot of attention. “We saw McCune bring the ball from five or six boards inside, swinging the ball to the track,” said Lichy. “Mark Roth was the leader, and McCune won the tournament playing inside of Roth, which we all knew was impossible with a flat wrist, and frankly he was not in the same league with Roth. That is when we knew for sure that something very odd was happening.” Lenny knew it as well, but no one knew what it was because McCune did not tell anyone that he had been experimenting with soaking balls in a chemical called Toluene to soften the ball surface. By the time McCune won three more titles halfway through the year, everybody knew what he was doing and all hell broke loose. The real problem was that some people got the idea he was using a much
1973: Another Turning Point
COVER STORY icholson being
N stronger chemical called Methyl Ethel e inducted into th Keytone (MEK), and it turned into a PBA Hall of Fame in 2011 dangerous situation. “I tried using MEK and my ball hooked off the lane,” said Lichy. “With Toluene, it was a slow process that took a week or two. I’ll never forget when Bo Burton took a favorite Crown Jewel and put it in MEK. He left it in too long and it ate the cover completely off the ball. He went nuts! He brought what was left of the ball into the locker room and said ‘Here! Weigh this in ! I’m quitting!’ ” Don McCune won six titles in 1973 and was named Bowler of the Year. The following year, after the PBA outlawed the soakers, he struggled a little, and one day made the mistake of verbally assaulting Lenny in the locker room after a bad block. Lenny was helping Lichy check casher’s balls after the last squad. “I remember Lenny almost jumping over the table going after him,” said Lichy. “I didn’t catch him because of all the balls in the way,” said Lenny, “It was a good thing, because if I had, I probably would have squeezed his head and Lichy would have lost me as an employee.” According to Lichy, there were a few other times when players would badmouth Lenny, known then as The Lane Guy, but not too many. “Lenny was 6’5”, 260 pounds, and agile,” said Lichy. “It wasn’t a requirement for the job, but it was a real asset.” Lenny confirms that Lichy always was there for him.
Lichy Changes Direction Halfway through 1974, Lichy heard that player services director Clyde Scott was leaving the tour, and since he knew he was a pretty good ball driller, he told Harry Golden he wanted the job. “I remember driving to Denver with Bill Spigner and Pete Couture in a terrible snow storm, and we got in at 3:00 a.m.,” he said. “That morning, Goose (Harry Golden) told me I had the job if I wanted it, and after training for a couple of weeks, I got a two year contract for $72,000.” When Lichy signed the player services director contract on June 1, 1974, he thought that it would be a two year job. “My goal was to save $20,000 a year, and return to bowling in 1977,” he said. “I did not take the job to become the ball driller for the pros. I took it to make enough to bowl.” Lichy did become the ball driller of the pros, but it started slowly. When he first got the job, only the lefthanders Johnny Petraglia and Dave Davis would trust him to drill their equipment. Finally, after a few bad weeks, Jay Robinson asked Petraglia and Davis if Lichy was good on layouts, and when he got the thumbs up, he took a chance. “After missing the cut for several weeks, Jay brought me a ball he got from 30
Nicholson perfe cted his craft
John Jowdy, and he led the tournament that week,” said Lichy. “He lost the last match to Don Helling, but when Bo Burton interviewed him and asked what had changed, he said ‘Two words – Larry Lichstein.’” The next week, Dick Weber allowed Lichy to drill him a ball, and the same thing happened; Weber led the event and lost the title to Gary Dickinson. But for Lichy, the floodgates had opened and everybody wanted his services. Most of the results were good, but not always. Lichy recalls, ”I drilled an orange pumpkin [Ebonite ball] for Earl Anthony and he shot 289 with it the first game on TV and he got a big contract the next week. But I also drilled a ball for Don Carter. He shot 144 his last time ever on TV. So we always laughed when he told me I put him into retirement.” Drilling for the top pros became an important part of Lichy’s business, but it was the ball companies that turned his relatively small operation into a big business, requiring two 18-wheelers, a fancy RV, and a couple of trailers to get from one event to the next. When the PBA Senior Tour started in 1981, that added more work and more income. “What a thrill it was to see all of those guys together,” said Lichy. ”Bluth, Kowalic, Allison, Strampe, Lillard, Weber, Carter, Beach, Salvino, Bordeaux, and all the rest. They still had that style and charisma that we remembered from when we saw them as kids. It was amazing.” “I was making about $1,100 a week from the PBA for ball
COVER STORY Lichstein in the early days of his bowling ca reer
drilling and transport and cleaning player shirts. Roger Zeller comes to me and says he wants me to move 80 Columbia Yellow Dots in the truck, and pro-am every week, and drill for the Columbia pro staff,” said Lichy. “Yellow Dots were the best ball made at the time and I sold every one every week for $50 a ball. My income went from $1,100 to over $5,000, and let me tell you, that was a lot of money for a 25-year-old boy living in a bus just trying to survive. I was in orbit!” A few months later, all of the other big ball companies figured out what Columbia was doing and matched it, and Lichy’s operation took off like a skyrocket. “When Harry Golden asked if I would renew my player services contract in April of 1976, the answer was easy. I had planned to resign, but I ended up resigning, and I thought it would be my job for the rest of my life.” “And that is how Lichy became the tour’s leading money winner for many years,” jokes Lenny.
Life After the Tour Lenny may have started his involvement in bowling simply as a friend of great bowlers like Hardwick and the G Squad guys, but he has been a big part of taking what started as a simple task with a spray gun in the early days of the PBA and turning it into a science that is in demand everywhere on the planet where bowling is played. Lenny is quick to label the guys he has associated with, like Lichy and John Davis, the founder and CEO of Kegel, as geniuses, but both of them and many of us who know Lenny never discount his knowledge and contributions. Lenny worked on the tour several times in the glory years. He spent time at home coaching and learning the bowling business from his close friend Ted Hoffman. He also helped Hoffman run the PBA Western Region for a few years. “I really loved Ted,” Lenny told us at Bowl Expo. “He was a friend, a mentor, and just one of the greatest gentlemen I have ever known.” Hoffman and John Davis were also very influential when Lenny decided to start his internet radio show in 2002. “I had so many stories to tell, and they thought it would be a good way to share some of them with the industry,” said Lenny. Davis stepped up to have Kegel sponsor the show, and today, Lenny has interviewed more than 500 guests on over 1,100 weekly shows. Somehow, Lenny also found time to write three books about his tour adventures, and he has become one of the most important journalists in bowling. It hardly seems possible, but Lichy has now been more years away from the tour than he spent traveling America’s highways chasing the world’s greatest bowlers. He spent many of those years in the pro shop business, and he bowled on the senior tour for a year in 2000. Recently, he has settled down in southern Florida where he is working in a small center doing whatever needs to be done. “I do a little league coordination, promotion, consulting with the owners, learn-to-bowl clinics. I really enjoy it,” he said. “I live with a beautiful woman, I’ve got a boat and an old Jaguar that I fool with every day, and guys like you are still writing stories about me. I am the happiest man in the world.” Lichy cherishes old friends like Lenny and tries to stay in touch. “I absolutely love Lenny and what he has done for bowling,” said Lichy. “We live on opposite coasts so we don’t see each other much, but we are friends 32
all of Fame into the USBC H ed ct du in as w Lichstein as he
for life. He has had a tough time losing all of the guys from the G Squad. It was really tough when he lost Billy and Ted, but he just keeps going. You have to admire him for everything he has done.” Lenny has very fond memories of his lifelong friendship with Lichy as well. “I’ll never forget some of the times we had together, doing our act for the players in the locker rooms, playing on the baseball team, card games with the guys, sitting in the grandstands for hours watching and talking about the greatest bowlers in the world,” said Lenny. “And [Lichy] is the greatest story teller in the world. When I went into the PBA Hall of Fame, he called me and we both cried on the phone. Most people don’t know it, but he is very emotional. He is a deep thinker, and his memory for places and dates is unreal. I love him and would do anything for him. He is a true character and a real genius.” ❖
Jim Goodwin is the founder and president of the Bowling News Network and a former president and life member of the International Bowling Media Association.
Swing into Amusement Expo in New Orleans and get a beat on business By Howard McAuliffe he 2020 Amusement Expo International in New Orleans March 9-11 is going to be an inspiring, educational, and enjoyable threeday event in a great city. The event will include multiple opportunities for education and one combined tradeshow. Education will be provided by Amusement Expo featuring an FEC track of seminars, as well as a ‘street’ track which is focused on route operations. In addition to these educational opportunities, Amusement Expo co-locates with: the VR Summit, curated by virtual reality guru Bob Cooney; the National Bulk Vendors Association Convention (NBVA); and the Laser Tag Convention. While the educational sessions are separated, there will only be one tradeshow with all vendors exhibiting at the Expo.
Education Opportunities No matter how much experience we gain, there is always room to improve. The Amusement Expo education program has been growing and improving steadily over the last three years, and, for many, it is the most important day of the Expo. All educational sessions are held Monday, March 9. This year will feature the most high profile keynote speaker to date, former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi. Mr. Rensi is an excellent speaker with a wealth 34
of knowledge about business and life, plus he is not afraid to ruffle feathers. He will likely inspire — and maybe slightly offend — everyone in the room, which makes for a thought-provoking session. The FEC and street tracks provide a great variety of knowledge from leaders in the industry and focus on cutting edge technologies, as well as nuts-and-bolts operational improvements. The VR Summit is the premier VR event of the year for the out-of-home entertainment industry. The Laser Tag Convention and NBVA sessions are targeted to those very important niches within the industry for attendees that want to learn about these specific areas.
FEC Focus As the FEC business has expanded rapidly in the last 10 years, largely due to the growth of BECs, the show has added a dedicated FEC track. The speakers have not been announced yet, but we have been informed topics will include eSports, escape rooms, marketing, hiring and training staff, in addition to topics focusing on FEC operations. Each year the quality of the speakers improves, and the sessions are focused on helping attendees improve their businesses.
TRADE SHOW Route/Street Focus The route business has always been a staple in the amusement industry. These companies provide amusement equipment in bowling centers, bars, grocery stores, and a plethora of other locations. Traditionally, these operators provide juke boxes, pool tables, ATMs, as well as a few arcade games and cranes in multiple locations. While all of these categories of equipment are still provided by these operators, many have begun to provide full redemption arcades. Often these arcades are operated with an automated redemption solution like Prize Hub, but increasingly they also provide full redemption counters. The educational sessions will focus on route operations as well as specific categories of equipment like ATMs, and provide opportunities for operators to meet and discuss topics face to face.
VR Summit Virtual Reality is the hottest new technology in the consumer and out-of-home entertainment markets. There is a tremendous amount of money being spent on developing the technology
for both the consumer and business-to-business market. This means that the technology is improving and changing rapidly, which makes deciding which system to invest in challenging. Most new FEC projects in 2020 will have a VR component and existing centers are rapidly adding VR â€” but picking a winner is difficult. The VR Summit will feature a variety of panels and a keynote presentation geared to the out-of-home VR market. At this writing, the speakers had not been announced, though last year included VR heavyweights like The Void, Dreamscape, Virtuix, Two Bit Circus, and Ubisoft. Attendees will be educated on the current state of the VR market as well as where it is going.
The Laser Tag Convention and NBVA Convention The Laser Tag Convention provides a slate of seminars dedicated to the laser tag business. Seminars will focus on multiple aspects of this business including: marketing, financing, designing, insuring, and operations. The NBVA Convention will organize a series of seminars focused on the bulk vending industry.
Tradeshow After a full day of education on Monday March 9, the tradeshow floor will be open onTuesday, March 10, and Wednesday, March 11. This is the place to see the vendors of toys, games, related products, and increasingly VR products. The show provides a focused environment to see games, attractions, and VR compared to the overwhelming IAAPA show. This allows for a more intimate space to speak with vendors and spend time in each booth. This is also a good show to network and learn how new products released at IAAPA are performing in the field, as well as see new products that were not ready for IAAPA. Hope you have a great show! â?–
Howard McAuliffe is vice president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Pinnacle Entertainment Group has conceived, developed, and operated family entertainment businesses in every size and budget, and integrated in to many other business as both corporate executives and entrepreneurs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
REFRESHED T THE NATIONAL BOWLING STADIUM IN RENO GETS A $4.5 MILLION FACELIFT
Chad Murphy, USBC’s executive director, gives opening remarks at the National Bowling Stadium’s 25th Anniversary and renovation celebration 40
IBI March 2020
The renovated lanes at the National Bowling Stadium are ready for action
By David Garber
he National Bowling Stadium (NBS) in Reno, NV, is celebrating two major milestones: its 25th anniversary and the grand celebration of the facility’s $4.5 million renovation. Built in 1995, the NBS was designed with the tournament bowler in mind. Since then, the facility has been a consistent economic engine for the region. It was the first purposebuilt, pure bowling facility in North America. Over its lifetime, the facility became more versatile and advanced to meet the needs of bowlers, spectators, and visitors. Changes to the NBS include the removal of stadium seating on the fourth floor behind the 78 championship lanes where most of the competitions are held. This allowed the settee area to be moved back 12 feet from the ball return and approach areas, giving bowlers necessary room for equipment, accessibility, and general comfort. New paint, carpeting, furniture, and ball racks make the renovation pop. The redesigned, open floorplan allows for large corporate events, vendor exhibits, and recreational functions. Energy-efficient LED lighting has been installed, along with a new air conditioning system for the South Atrium. New restrooms have been constructed, including a new family-style bathroom on the fourth floor. The USBC Nationals will begin on March 21st and will be the first large event in the remodeled facility. ❖
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his Look, 1970 ad for AMF’s Dick Weber AMF All-Pro ball fits right into our Lenny Nicholson and Larry Litchstein story, written by Jim Goodwin.
A bowler is as good as his ball AND the guy who drills it. ❖
- Patty Heath
“CONFESSIONS OF AN ANCHOR MAN.”