PORTLAND — Maine was the last place local bowlers thought they’d ever see a Professional Bowlers Association event take place. Then Bayside Bowl owner Charlie Mitchell convinced the sport’s top league to give his facility — and the state — a chance.

The inaugural PBA Maine Event was a hit last year, so much so that the PBA has returned for a second year. The second go-around of the Maine Event officially starts Saturday, with quarterfinals matchups in the PBA’s Elias Cup finals. The professional team competition includes a new local team, the Portland Lumberjacks. The Elias Cup finals will play out over the weekend, with the champion being decided Sunday afternoon. All the matches will be televised on tape delay on ESPN throughout April and May.

The conclusion of the Elias Cup doesn’t mean the end of the Maine Event, however. The team competition will make way for a 64-player Maine Shootout tournament that starts next Tuesday, with a draw on Monday night. Nine non-professional bowlers from Maine will get the chance to face off with PBA professionals in a match-play tournament that will span Tuesday and Wednesday.

A few local players had the opportunity to play in last year’s inaugural event, and said it was more than well received.

“The Bowl Portland crowd was just absolutely nuts,” said Scott Moore, who runs the pro shop at Sparetime Recreation in Lewiston. “And the pros, coming into it they didn’t even know what to think. They we’re just like ‘what is going on in here. We don’t get this kind of welcome at all any place we go.'”

Moore was lucky enough to play in the shootout, winning two rounds, including one against a PBA pro.


Moore has been bowling for 35 years, and all that time thought professional bowling and Maine didn’t go together.

“For the longest time it was something we never thought would ever make it here,” Moore said. “Somehow Charlie got it to come here.”

The PBA’s shot in the dark proved to be a home run a year ago. The Elias Cup saw its best ratings in its short history, and PBA Commissioner Tom Clark announced as soon as last year’s event got over that the tour would return again this year. Lewiston native James Goulding, who was a spectator at last year’s event but is competing this year said Bayside Bowl went nuts at Clark’s announcement.

Jimmy Clark of Topsham, who participated in last year’s shootout and will be in it again this year, said he still can’t believe the PBA has come to Maine.

“It’s unbelievable. Because we’re Maine,” Clark said. “Maine is behind every other state when it comes to almost anything. It was surreal last year. Now everybody is ready for it. It’s a party.”

The event has been a boon for Bayside Bowl as well. The facility has plans to expand, thanks in part to becoming a landing spot for a professional league that it was previously thought had no place in the state.


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