The winner of a bowling tournament here gets a unique prize – the bowling alley.
Darin Bail, who bought Star City Lanes in this north central North Dakota community two years ago, said a family situation requires his family to spend several months a year in Oregon, where they came from.
He came up with a plan to quickly hand off the business – give it to the winner of a tournament.
“I call it the ‘ultimate winner take all,'” Bail said. “There’s one winner, no second place prize. The winner gets the whole property – a bowling alley, restaurant, the real property that goes with it.”
Bail also came up with a unique tournament format – the score nearest to a bowler’s own average will win. That ensures that someone who regularly bowls 75 could win just as easily as someone who rolls a 250 every time.
“I made it up myself,” Bail said.
Gene Watne, who ran the bowling alley for 30 years, said Bail has “a pretty neat idea there.”
“My goodness, the guy who wins invests $250 and ends up with a going business,” Watne said. “I don’t know how you can beat a deal like that.”
Bail has lawyers and accountants overseeing the tournament and has cleared it with state gaming officials, he said. All debt on the business will be paid off before the tournament is over, he said.
The entry fee is $250. Qualifying rounds will be held at North Hill Bowl in Minot on May 27 and June 3, 10 and 17. The top 12 bowlers will face off June 24 in Velva in the bowling alley they hope to win.
Bail said he needs at least 600 entrants to make his plan work. If not enough people sign up, he will refund all entry fees, minus a $10 processing fee.
“People tell me we should expect 1,000 people,” he said, adding that he has received calls from bowlers in several states.
“This is very personal reasons we are getting rid of it and it has nothing to do with the business,” Bail said. “I have been torn. I would rather stay here and do this.”