Downtown hotel-casinos step up marketing of bowling

Jimmy Sturm wants to keep the lights on almost every day at the National Bowling Stadium, and his new bosses think he's just the man to make it happen.

Much like a promoter of rock shows that hustles up acts that can fill arena seats, Sturm has begun hustling up bowling tournaments to keep the automatic pin setters humming at the bowling stadium.

Sturm has been hired as executive director of bowling operations by Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, the Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino.

Gary Carano, general manager of the Silver Legacy, says the three properties expect that Sturm's efforts to aggressively market bowling-related events will help fill hotel rooms downtown and across the market.

"The whole purpose is to develop room nights," says Carano, noting that higher occupancy rates driven by bowling events will help support stronger rates for all hotels in Reno and Sparks.

Sturm, who's been on the job for three weeks, has been working the phones with potential clients coast to coast.

He's talking with nonprofits that conduct bowling tournaments as fundraisers. He's had some early success with big corporations and associations that sponsor in-house bowling tournaments or might be looking to include bowling as a part of a corporate meeting.

He's talking with service clubs that conduct national bowling events for their members, and he's developing plans for specialty tournaments such as football-themed events during the NFL playoffs.

"I'm a salesperson," Sturm says.

But he's a salesperson with deep connections in the bowling industry both as a professional bowler and as a national leader among operators of bowling centers.

As a professional bowler for 19 years, he tallied perfect 300 games on 26 separate occasions. These days, he's part of the Professional Bowlers Association Senior Tour.

Sturm has cut a wider swath as a bowling entrepreneur, beginning with his purchase in 1982 of a 12-lane bowling center in Dunbar, W. Va., just outside his home town of Charleston.

He just wrapped up a two-year term as president of the Bowling Proprietors Association, where he has served on the board of directors since 1998.

He's the president of the United States Bowling Congress, the sport's governing body, and he finished a term as chairman of the bowling industry's marketing organization, Strike Ten, last year.

In Reno, he'll be selling events in a 16-year-old facility that's scheduled for a major facelift and renovation funded by an additional $2 in room taxes levied in downtown properties.

Worth Group, a Reno-based architectural firm, has won a $110,900 contract from the city government to develop renovation plans.

Sturm served as an advisor during the original development of the National Bowling Stadium, which is owned by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

A smaller project creation of a bowling academy somewhere inside Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus also is key to plans to boost bowling events downtown.

The two-lane academy, Sturm says, would serve as a place to polish the skills of bowling instructors and also would provide teaching for bowlers in town for an event at the stadium.

Recognized as a Master Professional Instructor, Sturm has been included in the"Bowlers Journal" list of the top 100 instructors nationally for the past six years.


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