2006 USBC Open Championships to kick off with mass ball shot, Joe Bowler


    United States

    Bowling Alley: American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas

    2006USBCOpenLogo.jpg After 14 years, the wait is finally over as the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships returns to Corpus Christi, Texas, beginning Feb. 11. The 2006 USBC Open Championships is one of the largest participatory events in all of sports and one of bowling's true spectacles.

    On Saturday, the first of 12,606 five-player teams will invade the American Bank Center Exhibit Hall.

    The opening day festivities begin with the traditional "Mass Ball Shot," which signifies the official start of the event. Competitors from each team on the 1:30 p.m. squad simultaneously will roll a ball on each of the tournament's 48 lanes. Each member of the team will have an opportunity to participate.

    The highlight of the opening festivities is the crowning of "Joe Bowler," a tradition that has been renewed since 1951. One bowler from the 7 p.m. team squad on opening day is picked at random to throw the ceremonial first ball of the tournament. The honor is similar to throwing out the first pitch in baseball's World Series. After being selected, "Joe Bowler" is dressed in the traditional cape, scepter and crown.

    Opening day at the Open Championships also features a ribbon cutting ceremony and speeches from USBC, local and state officials, along with other dignitaries.

    The USBC Open Championships is open to any USBC adult member, and serves as bowling's premier showcase event. It features both Regular and Classified Divisions, giving bowlers of all skill levels an opportunity to compete on bowling's largest stage. This year's field will compete for a prize fund of $4.6 million.

    The 2006 edition of the USBC Open Championships will be held from Feb. 11-July 3, a run of 143 consecutive days. With 12,606 teams, this year's event is the second largest Open Championships ever held outside of Reno, Nev., and the sixth largest overall.

    When the tournament came to Corpus Christi for the first time in 1992, 8,557 teams made the trip to the American Bank Center. That year, the event only ran until June 1.

    Presenting sponsors for the 2006 USBC Open Championships are Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus Hotel/Casinos in Reno, Nev. Other participating sponsors are Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Texas State Aquarium, Majestic Ventures Yacht Charters, Inc., USS Lexington Museum and Texas Treasure Casino Cruises.