South Point banks on big draw with $30 million bowling center

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Interior view rendering of the new South Point Bowling Arena.

South Point Bowling Arena

Exterior view rendering of the new South Point Bowling Arena. Launch slideshow »

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Ryan Growney, general manager of the South Point, shows renderings of the planned $30 million bowling tournament facility at the South Point, April 30, 2013.

The South Point is vying to be a bowling kingpin.

Company representatives announced Tuesday they would build a $30 million bowling arena to house a series of United States Bowling Congress events beginning in 2016. The hotel, Las Vegas Events and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority signed a 12-year agreement with the USBC to host events expected to draw 1 million people to the city over the life of the deal.

Within that 12 years, the USBC, the national governing body for the sport, will host seven championship events in Las Vegas.

The two-story arena will have the 60-lane bowling facility on the top floor and two additional horse facility arenas on the bottom to expand the hotel’s ability to host equestrian events.

Ryan Growney, general manager of the South Point, owned by longtime casino executive Michael Gaughan, said construction would begin next month and the site will face Interstate 15, just south of the property’s existing South Point Arena and Equestrian Center. It’ll be separate from the hotel’s existing 64-lane bowling facility, which currently hosts the Professional Bowlers Association’s World Series of Bowling.

The new facility will have the top bowling and scoring technology, a 25,000-square-foot tournament registration area, a bowlers’ squad room and locker rooms.

Las Vegas got a taste of what the Open Championships could do for the economy in 2009. In February that year, a portion of Cashman Center was converted to a bowling center and for 154 days, teams from across the country came to Las Vegas to compete.

During the competition, 17,200 teams bowled from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day, bringing an estimated 292,750 people to the city. Tourism officials estimated the bowlers and their supporters stayed an average 4.3 days, producing a nongaming economic impact of $120 million.

Stu Upson, executive director of the USBC, said Southern Nevada is appealing to the organization’s 1.8 million members and generally, bowlers spend more time in the host city when the event is in Las Vegas. Upson said that when the competition is in other cities, bowlers average 3.5 days per stay.

Las Vegas Events, the LVCVA and the USBC considered approaching a local company about building a permanent facility for USBC events for months. They courted South Point, Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos with the proposal and Gaughan — who Growney called “the baron of bowling” — agreed to build the tournament facility.

The South Point won’t be able to accommodate the high number of bowlers that arrive for tournament events — roughly 300 competitors a session or 4,200 a week. Organizers said 27 percent of the attendees could stay at the hotel and the rest would be invited to Boyd and Station properties.

Growney said construction workers would first build the shell of the building, then develop two separate equestrian arenas with 500 seats in 90,000 square feet on the ground floor. The South Point already has the city’s top horse show facility and the two arenas will enable the property to expand its equestrian lineup.

Once the ground floor is completed, workers will build the second-floor bowling arena, installing state-of-the-art sound barriers. Growney said construction is expected to be completed by fall 2015, in time for some local bowling events prior to the start of the USBC schedule, which will include the USBC Women’s Championships in 2016, 2020 and 2022, and the USBC Open Championships in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023.

There will be more than 40 additional tournaments, conventions and short-duration events brought in during the agreement. Other events planned include the USBC Masters, USBC Queens, USBC Senior Masters and the USBC Team USA trials.

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