March 1 – June 29 (last day of team competition)
National Bowling Stadium
The USBC Open Championships is widely recognized as the largest participatory sporting event in the world. Consisting of team, doubles, singles and optional all-events competition, the Open Championships is held in an arena or convention center setting in a different city each year.
All you have to do to participate is become a USBC member. If you want to experience competition in a stadium-like atmosphere while combining your bowling experience with a vacation to the tournament city, this is the event for you.
Would you believe that the Open Championships (formerly called the ABC Championships Tournament) has a long and storied tradition older than football’s Rose Bowl, baseball’s World Series and auto racing’s Indianapolis 500? It’s true!
The tournament was born in 1901 when six lanes were installed in the Welsbach Building in downtown Chicago. The tournament ran four days, hosting 41 teams from nine states and offering a $1,592 prize fund. Tournament organizers leased the second floor of the Welsbach Building in Chicago, a brick structure located behind the Marshall Field’s store on Wabash Avenue. The Brunswick Balke-Collender Corp.agreed to donate six lanes and all the necessary furnishings.
Today, this four-and-a-half-month annual bowling celebration attracts between 60,000 and 90,000 participants from all 50 states and several foreign countries. Bowlers compete for a mammoth prize fund that tops $6 million.
The tournament installation – usually 48 lanes – is so big that it must be conducted in convention centers or sports arenas. A typical Open Championships installation requires enough plywood to construct five three-bedroom homes and more than six miles of wiring is required to take care of the event’s electrical needs.
More than 30 locally-hired carpenters, electricians and laborers help install the unique tournament venue which includes 48 lanes, temporary offices and exhibition space for vendors.
The tournament format remains mostly the same as it was from the beginning. You must be a USBC Adult member to compete in the tournament, which consists of team, doubles and singles events. You usually bowl the three-game team event the first day and six games of doubles and singles on the next.
There are two divisions based on skill level: The Regular Division, for those who average higher than 180, and the Classified Division, for bowlers who average 180 or below. Classified doubles partners can’t have more than a 360 combined average, while Classified team members can’t have a combined team average of more than 900).