Top U.S. bowling alley operator Bowlero Corp. has purchased the sport’s governing body, the Professional Bowlers Association, as both organizations look to build on the venerable pastime’s recent momentum.
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The company, which operates more than 300 centers in North America, under the Bowlero, AMF, Brunswick Zone and Bowlmor Lanes brands, said it plans to integrate the PBA’s pool of pro bowlers and fan base into its operations. Existing PBA events and tournaments will proceed as scheduled, as will the PBA’s multi-year television deal with Fox Sports.
"Bowlero Corp has proven itself to be a champion for bowling in the entertainment world, enhancing the experience for the over 28 million guests who visit their bowling centers each year," PBA Commissioner Tom Clark said in a statement. "They've transformed the game for a new generation of competitors and enthusiasts, and with this acquisition we will build on our current momentum and create more opportunities for our players and fans."
After a lengthy partnership with ESPN, the PBA reached terms on a multi-year media rights deal with Fox Sports in 2018. Fox Sports said in June that nearly 21 million viewers had watched PBA events across its platforms through the first five months of the year, up 85 percent compared to total viewership for its entire 2018 season.
Bowlero CEO Colie Edison said the deal would expand the PBA’s fan base and provide opportunities to showcase the league’s events at its bowling centers. More than 28 million customers visit Bowlero facilities each year, the company added.
The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed.
"The PBA is rich with history and home to the top players in the sport, with thousands of members and millions of fans throughout the world," said Edison. "This acquisition is about leveraging resources to give the PBA Tour the support and funding it deserves, building value for dedicated members nationwide, and expanding the brand's overall visibility."
Fox Corp. is the parent company of FOX Business and Fox Sports.