Two Men Making A Difference For El Paso
This year approximately 40,000 women bowlers with family and friends, will come to El Paso. They will sleep in our hotels, dine in our restaurants and shop in our malls. They will deposit in excess of $35 million into our city’s infrastructure. From March 27 – July 9, we are the proud destination of the United States Bowling Congress 2010 Women’s Championship.
Becoming the Host City for a sporting event of this size was no easy task. But to El Pasoans Gene Calabro and Brian Kennedy, it was a matter of knowing that El Paso would not only be the perfect city, but a deserving one as well.
Gene Calabro, a native New Yorker has a passion for two things: the sport of bowling and the city of El Paso. In 1986, Calabro convinced the city and county of the potential economic impact of bringing a national bowling tournament to El Paso. Several unsuccessful bid attempts followed. The bid for the 1991 tournament was lost to Toledo, Ohio and the 1992 tournament bid was awarded to Corpus Christi, Texas.
In 2003, Brian Kennedy, President/CEO of the El Paso Sports Commission, held a public meeting at the Coliseum and invited anyone with an interest in a particular sport to attend. Gene Calabro was at that meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Kennedy asked for questions and Calabro (wanting to give his dream one more chance) asked “ What can you do to help us bring a national bowling tournament to El Paso?’
“I thought it was one of the craziest ideas I’d ever heard” admits Brian Kennedy. “But I made a promise to do the research.”
Gene remembers the meeting when he detailed all that would be involved in hosting such an event, “ but when I told him about the revenue that other cities had generated –his eyes began to open wider and wider and he finally said” “I’m going to give this my #1 priority.”
It was in that moment that the dream was reborn. Brian Kennedy formed the coalition that included the Sports Commission, County of El Paso, City of El Paso, El Paso Hotel/Motel Association, and El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Preparations began to submit a bid proposal for the 2011 Men’s Open Championship. Funding sources were contacted and the Commission, County and City each approved and budgeted their share of the $750,000 bid fee required by the USBC. So in 2004 the El Paso delegation was off to Reno, Nevada to make their presentation.
Award decisions are based on a vote by members the USBC Committee. El Paso would be defeated by one vote, but proud to have made it that far in the selection process. The United States Bowling Congress knew they had not seen the last of El Paso.
In 2006 ,the El Paso team was invited to Milwaukee to bid on two tournaments. El Paso was awarded the bid to host the 2010 Women’s Championship.
El Paso owes these two men a debt of gratitude, but if you ask them why they did it they will tell you simply that they love our city and its residents. They will tell you that El Paso deserves to be recognized in this way and Brian Kennedy will add, “It was just the right thing to do.”