Columbus was a popular bowling center in the 1950s
The 47th American Bowling Congress tournament opened in April 1950 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum and lasted 60 days. It was a huge economic windfall for Columbus, with 5,109 teams and nearly 26,000 athletes.
The Dispatch reported that the site has been transformed into a real bowling alley with 36 new lanes built for the event. Just three weeks before, it had hosted the state high school basketball tournament.
“It’s the only building in Columbus big enough to host the tournament, yes, but it actually isn’t,” said Paul Walker, editor of Dispatch Bowling. He pointed out that a photo studio, offices and a clubhouse were in separate buildings. The “miniature city” had its own telephone exchange, restaurants, plane ticket office and even a hospital run by the Red Cross.
The installation of the lanes, decorations, locker rooms, concession stands and paddock (where bowlers weighed balls for balance and dragged them until bowling time) was valued at $ 377,000, which would be roughly $ 4.3 million in today’s dollars.
The first place winner was Team Pepsi-Cola from Detroit.
This was the third time in 17 years that Columbus had hosted the event, the first in 1933 and again in 1942. Walker described the team uniforms as such: “Men will be roaming the streets of Columbus for the next two years. months wearing flashy shirts you’ve already laid eyes on.
There were also four sideshow tournaments open to local bowlers as well as visitors. For the lower middle kegler, there was a singles classic “185 and under” at Linden Lanes. A doubles classic was held at Riverview Recreation, a singles classic at Broad-Olympic Recreation and the National Bowlers’ Journal individual championships in Olentangy Village.
Bowling was big business in those days, and The Dispatch regularly devoted many columns to bowling tips and local results from these lanes: Arena, Athletic Club, Broad-Olympic, College Inn, Gettrost, Hi-Goodale, Hillcrest, Jewish Center, Knights of Columbus, Linden, Masonic Temple, Moose Lodge, Olentangy, Parsons, Riverview, Swan, Sycamore, Vermount, Westerville and YMCA.
Collaborator Linda Deitch was the Dispatch Librarian for 25 years.