Bowlero Corp, the largest owner of bowling centers in the United States, rocked the bowling world a few weeks ago when it announced it had acquired the Professional Bowlers Association.
While many online have been quick to dismiss the deal as negative for bowling, it’s important that our community give Bowlero a chance to show us what direction they plan to go and the actions they take before judgment is passed.
For what it’s worth, the new CEO of the PBA, Colie Edison, is saying all the right things. Edison, who maintains her role as Chief Customer Officer for Bowlero as well, offered promise for the future in a recent interview with FloBowling.
The reality is bowling has no choice but to get onboard with Bowlero. Why would they buy the PBA simply to run it into the ground? They are here to try and build the momentum the PBA has gained in recent years and to eventually turn a hearty profit one day. That’s the way business works.
The question is, how long will Bowlero stick it out and continue to invest funds for the PBA? Edison was quick to answer that question.
“This is a long-term play,” Edison said. “We are in it for the long haul. It makes total sense for us as a company to be completely invested in the PBA. We are not naive to think this isn’t going to take a long time.”
In the short term, Edison said Bowlero is willing to invest in the PBA by adding money into prize funds to beef them up. That process has already started with the first-place prize at the upcoming PBA Clash doubled from $25,000 to $50,000.
PBA Tour players have told me privately they are both excited and concerned about Bowlero’s acquisition of the PBA Tour. Most of that concern comes from the unknowns, but as the picture becomes clearer, it appears as though this ownership change will become a very strong positive for the players.
“We are going to go out and focus on building up the prize funds,” Edison said. “Whether that comes in the shape of Bowlero Corp needing to subsidize some of that in the beginning, which I am not afraid to do.”
Under CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark the PBA has made tremendous strides in recent years and thankfully, Clark will remain on board as the commissioner of the PBA moving forward.
Clark’s guidance and leadership to acquire new deals with FOX Sports and FloSports have been significant game-changers for the organization. That momentum is now backed by a company that appears as though it’s not afraid to invest money into the PBA. No matter how you slice it, that’s a good thing.
Are we all going to agree with everything Bowlero does going forward? Probably not. But Edison makes it clear they are ready to invest in the PBA and make it bigger than ever. Is anyone else standing by to make that investment?
“No one, I don’t care if you want to sit there online and tell me I’m the worst person, are you going to step up and write the check?” Edison said. “Are you going to do it? Well if you’re not, Bowlero Corp is here to do it and that’s exactly what we’ve done in our purchase of the PBA.”
It’s only fair we give them a chance to put their money where their mouth is.
Lucas Wiseman is the senior editor of FloBowling. He has covered bowling around the world for more than two decades. Follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Wiseman.