Laughlin’s first U.S. Open was a smash – News, Notes & Quotes

Laughlin’s first U.S. Open was a smash – News, Notes & Quotes – Brief Article

Dick Evans

THE RIVERSIDE RESORT Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nev., and the PWBA were big winners in a historic three-hour live telecast in December.

It was the first time in history that bowling had enjoyed three consecutive hours of live coverage in the United States. ESPN started its coverage with the Men’s U.S. Open, but twice it broke away to get live updates from lead announcer Jan Schmidt at the Women’s U.S. Open.

Because the first of three matches pitted the third-, fourth-, and fifth-seeded bowlers, there was plenty of spare time in the 90-minute live telecast to spotlight the unusual setting for the Women’s U.S. Open and Don Laughlin himself, who owns the hotel and casino and founded the beautiful community along the Colorado River that bears his name.

As one Laughlin citizen remarked, “Before this live bowling telecast, very few people knew anything about [us], but now everybody in the country knows.”

That may be stretching the truth a little, as fewer than 600,000 homes tuned in to the telecast, but you can bet everyone was impressed–especially Laughlin and Brian Markowitz, general manager of the bowling operation in the 1,400-room hotel.

“We loved having the ladies bowling here in the U.S. Open,” Markowitz says. “Despite only having 90 days to work on the tournament, we drew more than 600 for our pro-am event, and our survey showed one-third of the amateurs came from here, one-third came from Southern California, and one-third came from somewhere else in the country.”

Says Laughlin: “It was a fantastic event. I certainly hope it returns next year.”

Laughlin may have been most impressed with the large number of spectators, who reportedly paid $25 per seat for the TV finals. When tournaments are held in Las Vegas, 90 miles away, the TV finals usually are free to the public.

PWBA president John Falzone says all the bowlers he talked to were excited about the prospect of returning.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group