ABC Tournament Opens In Reno

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About 82,000 bowlers from across the country are competing for a $30,000 first prize in what organizers call the world's largest bowling tournament.

The five-month 101st American Bowling Congress Championships Tournament kicked off Saturday at downtown Reno's National Bowling Stadium.

The tournament will draw the second largest field in the ABC's history, spokesman Lucas Wiseman said.

About 12,200 bowlers competed in last year's tournament in Knoxville, Tenn.

Officials attribute this year's large field to the lure of Reno's gambling and the 78-lane bowling stadium itself.

"Bowlers have always fancied the bowling stadium as their Yankee Stadium," said Joe Kelley, its general manager.

More than 16,400 five-man teams are signed to play through the end of June in the tournament that's expected to pump $119 million into the local economy. Each team is allowed only one professional.

The tournament returns to Reno in 2007, and has signed a letter of intent to extend the ABC for 2010, 2013 and 2016.

Kelley said he expects the agreement to be formalized at the ABC's weeklong convention next month.

Nearly 900 bowlers showed up for Saturday's opening ceremony.