ARLINGTON, Texas - The start date of the 2021 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships will move to May 1, and the event will feature a modified schedule to allow for social distancing with one team per pair during competition.
Flexibility in the availability of the South Point Bowling Plaza and nearby South Point Bowling Center, plus the commitment of the property's leadership to the success of the 2021 USBC Open Championships, will allow up to 50,000 bowlers to return to the biggest stage in bowling in 2021.
The tournament is slated to run for 79 days from May 1-July 18, but adjustments to the daily squad schedule will allow the entry capacity to remain at more than 9,300 five-player teams. Based on demand, the 2021 Open Championships can be extended as far as July 31, increasing the potential capacity to nearly 11,000 teams.
The event originally was scheduled to begin March 6 and conclude July 18.
"We are grateful that our partners at South Point are as committed to the Open Championships as we are and that they were willing to help us find a way to conduct the event while meeting local social distancing guidelines," USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy said. "We are confident that vaccine distribution in early 2021, along with good planning, will allow our members to return to the lanes and see champions crowned once again."
Team competition will be held as planned at the 60-lane Bowling Plaza, while all doubles and singles competition will shift to the 64-lane Bowling Center, which previously hosted the Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC and team practice sessions during the run of the Open Championships in 2017 and 2019.
The new location for the Bowlers Journal Championships and practice sessions in 2021 will be announced by Feb. 1.
The primary need for the additional lanes for the 2021 Open Championships is because team competition will shift from the traditional two teams per pair of lanes, to just one, to meet with the social-distancing requirements in Nevada. The maximum number of teams per day will be approximately 120, but four team squads will be required, instead of just two.
The doubles and singles format will not change, and each pair of lanes still will feature four bowlers (two doubles teams) as planned. There will be five squads of D/S each day.
The team times for 2021 will be at 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and D/S squads will take place at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Teams signed up to compete in March and April will work with the tournament staff to select alternative dates, but if the timing doesn't work, captains will have the option to receive a tournament credit toward their 2022 entries or receive a complete refund.
Teams currently scheduled to bowl in May, June or July will not be required to change their competition dates, but they may be assigned new squad times based on the changes to the daily schedule.
There is no action to take at this time. Captains of the more than 8,500 signed up for the 2021 Open Championships will receive further information and instructions by email no later than early next week.
Additionally, the online registration portal for the Open Championships will be offline indefinitely to allow staff to reset the system and move teams to new squads.
During the downtime, the tournament staff will work with captains to relocate teams currently scheduled for March and April, while also reassigning squad times for teams signed up for May 1 and beyond.
Once the system reopens, captains would be able to log in to adjust their dates or squad times on their own, based on what's available.
Another feature being introduced at the 2021 event to help minimize person-to-person contact and money exchange will be a cashless system for purchasing brackets. Brackets entries during the 2021 event must be purchased using a credit or debit card.
For those competing in the USBC Women's Championships at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada, no additional changes have been made to the format or competition dates.
The 2021 Women's Championships will take place in Reno, Nevada, from April 23-July 4, and the registration process opened with social distancing in mind, allowing for just one team per pair of lanes, per team squad.