When people think of Nevada, often times the first thing that comes to mind is Las Vegas -- and for good reason. It's the Entertainment Capital of the World and home to the best casinos, restaurants and hotels that you'll find anywhere. But Nevada is a land of many incredible treasures and among them is the great city of Reno, the "Biggest Little City in the World."
Later this month, Bowling's U.S. Women's Open will come to Reno, bringing together two of our country's great treasures -- and two classic American comeback stories.
I see a fascinating parallel between Reno and bowling. Bowling is a sport that some thought had seen its heyday. After explosive growth during the 1950s and 60s, the bowling industry cooled off during the late 1980s and early 90s and some thought that it was a pastime whose time had passed. Boy were they wrong. In recent years, bowling has seen an incredible resurgence, fueled by the emergence of entertainment bowling centers that offer a more upscale experience including lounge areas and restaurant quality food. Bowling is now the nation's number one participatory sport with more than 71 million people taking to the lanes annually (more than 832 million games played every year) and the sport is seeing surging popularity among female and youth audiences. In fact, bowling now competes with hockey as one of the nation's fastest growing high school sports.
Similarly, the city of Reno is an incredible turnaround story. Reno had a series of ups and downs in the early 20th century and after gas explosions rocked the city in the late 1950s, Reno went through some tough times. However, years of hard work and investment have paid off and today Reno is flourishing. With a population of more than 225,000, Reno is the largest city in Northern Nevada and home to a growing economy and rapidly developing cultural center. There is now just so much going on in Reno... the River Walk District, Nevada Museum of Art, the Triple A Reno Aces, the Reno Championship Air Races... not to mention breathtaking views of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains and easy access to Lake Tahoe, one of the most gorgeous places on the planet.
In just a few short weeks, the finals of the Bowling's U.S. Women's Open will be played underneath the iconic Reno arch on Virginia Street nearby the Eldorado Hotel Casino. It will be an incredible outdoor sports experience that will break new ground for bowling. More than 300 competitors from over 16 countries will compete with a chance to win a million dollars if a perfect 300 is rolled in the finalist competition, which will be aired on ESPN2.
I'll be candid -- bowling is good business. The economic benefit of hosting the U.S. Women's Open in Reno is significant. It's estimated that the event will bring several thousand tourists to the area and create a groundswell of national publicity for Reno. And I'm just so glad that Reno was selected as the host city for this spectacular sporting event.
Like bowling, Reno is a great American comeback story that deserves to be told. On the eve of June 27th, as the finals of Bowling's U.S. Women's Open will be played under the Reno Arch, two of America's great treasures will be brought together for an incredible sports viewing experience. Talk about a win-win.