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Friday, 24 July, 2009 2:14 PM

After Nearly 50 Years, Detroit's Historic Thunderbowl Lanes Returns to Glory

Photo credit: img.groundspeak.com

Thunderbowl sign

Photo credit: Thunderbowl.org

The exterior of Thunderbowl in Allen Park, Mich.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. --Nearly 50 years after it was built to showcase the best in bowling, “The Arena” inside historic Thunderbowl Lanes in suburban Detroit is about to come full circle.

During the month of August and into early September, the arena bay inside Thunderbowl Lanes will be abuzz with 27 days of action as the centerpiece of the Professional Bowlers Association’s World Series of Bowling, a unique festival of competitive bowling that will include seven championship tournaments and pay out more than $2 million in prize money.

“The arena is one of the reasons the PBA selected Detroit for the inaugural World Series of Bowling,” said Thunderbowl Lanes proprietor Tom Strobl, who purchased the Thunderbowl complex in 1997. “There isn’t another facility like it. Bowling fans who attend the World Series are going to love it.”

George Prybla and his partners built Thunderbowl Lanes with 54 lanes in 1960, but a year later they added an amazing 2,000-seat, multi-level stadium with four lanes to house competition for Detroit’s entry into the fledgling National Bowling League.

“The original layout included a restaurant with a view of the lanes from the upper area,” Strobl said. “It was almost a forerunner to sky boxes used in all major sports stadiums these days. It was a spacious area with ceilings two or three stories high.

“But when the National Bowling League folded shortly after the facility was built, the owners were stuck with it. So over a period of years, they built a 20-lane bowling arena over the top of the original seating area. The levels for the original seating are still there; we just built around them. The area where the restaurant used to be is now a poker room.

“But the seating behind the lanes was retained and it was still a showcase for years. The Detroit All-Stars bowled there. The arena hosted a PBA tournament run by Earl Anthony in 1978. It hosted a local “Bowling for Dollars” TV show that aired in Detroit, Monday through Friday, for years.

“The arena has gradually changed,” Strobl continued. “We added more lighting and changed the seating in 2003. There is a huge pull-down video screen in the arena. On Fridays and Saturdays, we play music and have great fun. The place is packed.

“The World Series of Bowling is bringing the original purpose of the arena full circle,” he added. “It’s going to provide what the original owners had in mind. It might not seat 2,000 people, but there is comfortably room in there for 700 or 800 people.”

The first World Series event in the arena will be a special “PBA Survivor Challenge” side event on Friday, Aug. 7. Next, preliminary competition in the PBA Cheetah Championship will take place in the arena on Wednesday, Aug. 12. From that day forward, the showcase arena will host Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour, PBA Women’s Series presented by BOWL.COM or PBA World Championship action on an almost daily basis. The grand finale will involve the production of six championship television shows for delayed broadcast on ESPN on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 5 and 6.

It’s going to be a “can’t miss” opportunity for bowling fans not only in the Detroit area, but throughout the Midwest. There is a wide variety of ticket options for spectators, including single-day tickets for Tour Qualifying Rounds and practice sessions ($5), qualifying rounds ($15 all day) or match play rounds ($25 all day). A $100 “VIP Pass” is available through July 31, which is good for the entire World Series except for the TV shows. TV show tickets range from $15 for Level D, single-show seats to $260 for an all-day VIP package in Level A for either Sept. 5 or Sept. 6.

For more information on ticket packages and prices, and to order tickets in advance, go to: http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/eventSearch.jsp?event_id=7377&cobrand=pba. For a complete schedule of events that will take place in the Thunderbowl Lanes arena bay, go to: http://pba.com/pbatour/tournament.asp?ID=1620

Source: PBA.com

 

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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.

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