ARLINGTON, Texas – The Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) has canceled its 2020 PWBA Tour season, including its two major events, the USBC Queens and the U.S. Women’s Open.
The PWBA is a joint operation of the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA) and the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), and leadership for both organizations determined workability concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and varying nationwide restrictions would not allow the PWBA to conduct full-field tour events.
Several operational factors were considered, most importantly the feasibility of providing standardized health and safety protocols for PWBA Tour athletes and staff while traveling throughout the country during a time with constantly changing conditions. The PWBA made the decision now, so athletes, host centers and ball manufacturers no longer would be in a holding pattern and can plan accordingly.
“When we looked at the way other professional sports leagues are resuming play, the consistent approach is regular testing while isolating athletes and staff from outside contact,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy said. “Sadly, we do not see a workable way to operate a national tour in 2020 across varying venues and states in a manner that meets standards for a professional sports league.”
Bowling centers are facing varying regulations as they reopen from the shutdowns of the last few months. While many centers have started to reopen, some are operating at a limited capacity to follow state guidelines. With professional sporting events currently unable to operate with spectators, PWBA cannot provide its primary host center value of customer engagement through Bowl with the Pros events.
The potential restricted capacity of centers also would affect the ability of the PWBA Tour to conduct events. For the 2019 season, the PWBA averaged 78 competitors for each of its first three events, and the USBC Queens drew a field of 192 competitors.
The PWBA has discussed, and will continue to explore, the possibility of conducting special events later in 2020.
“We’ll continue to explore the possibility of conducting PWBA events in 2020 for the players, the fans and the industry,” BPAA Executive Director Frank DeSocio said. “If conditions improve to allow special events to be an option for the PWBA, we want to find a way to make that happen.”
The 2020 PWBA Tour season was scheduled to start April 23 with the PWBA Tucson Open at Lucky Strike Bowl in Tucson, Arizona, but the PWBA announced the indefinite postponement of the 2020 season on March 16.
The PWBA Tour relaunched in 2015 after a 12-year hiatus. It continues to draw competitors from throughout the world each and has held 14 events each season since 2016. Twenty-seven athletes have won a PWBA title during the tour’s five seasons since its relaunch.