An Interview with Stu Upson, Executive Director, United States Bowling Congress | Sports Destination Management

An Interview with Stu Upson, Executive Director, United States Bowling Congress



Stu Puson, Executive Director, United States Bowling Congress
Stu Puson, Executive Director, United States Bowling Congress

With 20 years of sports and entertainment business management experience, Stu Upson joined the United States Bowling Congress as executive director in July 2009. In his previous position as senior vice president for Skip Barber Racing, Upson helped foster the corporate turnaround that saved the company from bankruptcy in 2001 and resulted in double-digit annual revenue growth.

Upson also brings experience as senior vice president for Venue3D, which provides marketing consulting services for retail developers and properties, vice president of sports and entertainment marketing for First USA Bank, and vice president of business development for Major League Baseball Properties. Today he shares the benefit of all those experiences with SDM.

What is the mission of your organization?
The USBC exists to grow the sport of bowling.

Nationally, how many participants do you have?
The USBC has approximately 2 million members who bowl regularly in USBC-sanctioned events, and our major national championships attract 100,000 to 130,000 annually.

How many events are held each year?
We hold two major championships each year, the USBC Open Championships and USBC Women's Championships, as well as two youth tournaments, the USBC Youth Open Championships and Junior Gold Championships. We also have the Intercollegiate Team Championships,the Intercollegiate Singles Championships, Queens, Senior Queens, Masters, Senior Masters, Team USA Trials, Senior Championships and National Mixed Team Tournament.

In what regions/locations are they held?
Our tournaments move each year to different cities across the country.

As an organization, what do you look for in a location?
For our two major championships, we require a location that can provide a facility (such as a convention center) with at least 90,000 square feet of open space where we can construct 48 to 60 tournament lanes. We also need the space for up to 200 consecutive days.

From an event management standpoint, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Finding cities/regions that are willing to work with us to promote our events and the sport of bowling throughout the community is a new challenge for us. As we talk to cities about hosting our events, we want to know how they can help us spread the word about our sport beyond what happens inside the tournament facility.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
It is great to be involved with these events that provide a unique, memorable experience for our members. We have thousands of bowlers who compete in our tournaments every year, and these events are a big part of their lives.

What is your biggest challenge in organizing your organization's events?
As you can imagine, the logistics of planning and executing events that last for up the 200 days is a staggering undertaking. Our team does a phenomenal job pulling it all together, but it is a significant challenge to be on our game every day for such an extended period of time.

Please describe how you feel your knowledge, skills and experience have contributed to the success of the sports events in which you are involved.
Since I am new to the USBC, I have not been involved in any past USBC events. Moving forward, I hope to bring my experience working with other major sports organizations, such as Major League Baseball, to help make our tournaments major events in each city where they are conducted. Our goal is to have bowling be the talk of the town while we are there, just as other sports are when they bring their major events to town.