So back to our first week on the road, and my last post ended with us people-watching in 3 Reno casinos, and discovering that there were two venues of notoriety in the city – the National Auto Museum, and the National Bowling Stadium – who knew?
In fact, Reno is quite proud of its connection to bowling, and when this 363,300 square foot, five-story facility opened in 1995, it became the first bowling “stadium” in the world, and it is really quite spectacular to see. The LA Times has even dubbed it the “Taj Mahal of Tenpins”.
When one enters the building at street level, the first thing you see is a statue dedicated to bowling as a family sport, something that Mary and I can relate to. As a kid, I frequently went bowling with my dad and best friend David Hill on many Sunday afternoons, while some 200 miles to the west of me, Mary was bowling with her dad in an Allied Chemical league at the Amherstburg lanes.
For the first three years that Mary and I were together we ran a 10 pin bowling league in the Thorncliffe Bowlerama, and a number of friends, St. Clair College alumni, and work associates from Leo Burnett, Hayhurst, and Ronalds-Reynolds advertising were active participants in the league. I remember those years fondly and in particular I recall Mary bowling right up until the 7th month of her first pregnancy. Once Kathryn was born in May of 1981, she and her baby carrier became a regular fixture at the lanes with us on Monday nights.
Anyway, back to Reno, and their fabulous bowling stadium. The facility is host to 78 championship lanes and boasts the longest video screen in the world at 440 feet. It can switch back and forth between a multi-lane scoreboard and multi-screen video projection unit. It is very cool! It also has a remarkable pro shop with a vast selection of sophisticated bowling equipment. We couldn’t believe how much the sport had evolved in the years since we regularly bowled, at least from a fashion and equipment point-of-view. The facility proudly hosts nationally sanctioned USBC professional events, as well as numerous “amateur” tournaments throughout the year. It is also open to the casual “house league” bowler, and we saw many of them out on the lanes working on their games while we there.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the connection between bowling and beer, as evidenced by this shirt that was for sale in one of the stadium’s retail shops.
The building is home to a portion of the International Bowling Hall of Fame, featuring plaques honoring some of the greatest names in the sport’s history. It also served as the location of the grand finale between Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson’s characters in the 1996 movie “Kingpin”.As we left the building, Mary noted to me, “we came to Reno expecting slot machines and blackjack tables and we ended up stumbling onto an aspect of the city that we had no idea that existed”