Bowling for Dollars: Ex-Microsoft Exec Hopes to Hit It Big

THE JOURNAL RECORD, January 18, 2000 | Go to article overview

Bowling for Dollars: Ex-Microsoft Exec Hopes to Hit It Big


AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- Chris Peters was way out of his league in trying to become a professional bowler. But now the millionaire computer whiz wants to buy the league.

Peters, 41, got rich as one of Microsoft's top executives, designing complex software programs. But as he approached middle age, boredom sent him on a new quest, and he quit to become a pro bowler.

Just one obstacle blocked his dream of joining the Professional Bowlers Association: Peters wasn't pro material. He never got his per-game average close to the 200 required for PBA membership.

Now, Peters' plan to buy the PBA could get the league out of the gutter financially and perhaps save the sport in the process.

This week, the PBA, owned by its membership of 2,800 bowlers, is expected to announce that it has given its board of directors permission to negotiate a sale to an outside investment group led by Peters.

"It's time for someone to lead bowling into tomorrow," PBA commissioner Mark Gerberich said at the league's Akron headquarters. He expects the sale to be completed by late February.

The PBA, which lost its TV contract with ABC in 1996 after 36 years on the network, is believed to be more than $3 million in debt. Gerberich said he has been pursuing for years the idea of selling the PBA, founded in 1958, to an outside investor.

"We've been looking at a number of things to increase our revenue streams," Gerberich said. "We took a lot of risks and tried to do a lot of things. But now it's time for something new."

In a letter to its membership, the PBA said a prospective buyer would cover all debt; improve the players' compensation plan; and commit at least $1 million toward tournament prize money.

Peters declined an interview request.

He also hasn't been seen at Sun Villa Bowl in Bellevue, Wash., for a few weeks. That's where Peters had been going three days a week in hopes of getting his bowling game to the pro level. …

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