The Professional Bowling Association will host a professional tournament in Jonesboro next year that will be televised on Fox Sports. Hijinx Family Entertainment Center will host the Greater Jonesboro PBA Open slated for Feb. 26 through March 3, Hijinx marketing and league director Corrine Bell told Talk Business & Politics.
Luring the PBA to host a televised tournament in Jonesboro is a project that Bell and assistant manager Kelly Stevens have worked on for more than three years, and it could turn into an annual event, she said.
“You can only imagine what this will do for the hotels in town. You can only imagine what this will do for the restaurants,” she said.
Jonesboro A&P Commission Chairman Jerry Morgan said he was pleased the PBA would be coming to Jonesboro. The tournament will feature 125 professional players, and will pay the winner up to $30,000.
“It’s a big deal for the city,” Morgan said.
It will cost $80,000 to host the tournament, and Hijinx will cover that cost through a combination of sponsorships, possible money from the A&P and its own money, Bell said. If the money can be raised, the PBA will make this an annual event, she said. How much the company will ask the A&P for has yet to be determined, she said.
The PBA is no longer associated with ESPN and has switched to Fox Sports. The organization wants to hold more tournaments at centers around the country, and Jonesboro, along with Lubbock, Texas, has been added to the circuit, Bell said. Jonesboro is the only city with a population below 100,000 that will host a tournament, and it’s the only city in Arkansas to host a PBA tournament, she said.
Fox Sports will send a camera crew to take pictures and video from around the city and on the Arkansas State University campus. The footage will be used in promotional spots, Stevens said. He wasn’t sure if any national televised commercial spots would be made available.
Hijinx sponsors about six tournaments each year, Bell said. For each night of a tournament, the number of hotel stays is about 50 rooms, she said. Hijinx has an annual tournament that lasts three days that will be replaced by this tournament, she said. It averaged about 100 players. With the additional, players, camera and production crews, other personnel and the additional four days means those hotel stays will increase significantly, she said.
One player expected to compete is Jason Belmonte, the number one ranked bowler in the world, according to the PBA. The 34-year-old has been named player of the year five times, and has reportedly earned $1.277 million during a career that has spanned a decade.
Bell and Stevens are excited they’ve landed a major, televised PBA event, but the work is just beginning. Hijinx’s annual tournament was typically held in June, so the clock is already ticking for this new one, she said. Logistical changes inside the facility will have to be vetted, money will have to be raised, and other issues will have to be solved, she added.
“This was on my bucket list. … I guess I can check it off,” she said.