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El Paso hotels bracing for big bowling boost

El Paso is a little more than a week away from the start of a massive bowling tournament that will take hold of the city.

The USBC Open Championships start next weekend and runs through July. The event is billed as bigger than the Super Bowl for El Paso with $75 million expected to be pumped into the local economy.

ABC-7 got a sneak peek inside the El Paso Convention Center, now complete with 62 bowling lanes.

“Its our biggest build ever, as a matter of fact,” said Matt Cannizzaro, public relations director for the USBC. “We’ve had 60 lanes before in the Convention Center, but this is the biggest.”

Just how many people will come to the Borderland?

Officials say 60,000 bowlers and family are expected over the next five months. All those people need a place to sleep and that is where the city is really cashing in with local hotels starting to feel that impact.

“Its a huge impact to us through our hotels, through our restaurants, through retail,” said Destination El Paso GM Bryan Crowe, who projects the USBC Open Championships to bring $75 million in economic impact to the city over the next few months, much of that in hotel revenue. “It’s exciting to see El Paso listed among the Top 10 travel destinations for Spring 2015. That’s a new placement for us to have El Paso featured there.”

Based on travel agent bookings through the CCRA online booking engine for this Spring are the usual suspects in the Top 5 like Las Vegas, New Orleans, New York, Nashville and Fort Lauderdale. But the rest of the Top 10 includes Miami, Orlando and Anaheim, because of Disney World of course. And then there’s El Paso at number nine, just ahead of Kissimmee, Fla.

“Who would ever think we would make No. 9 on the list?” asked El Paso Doubletree Director of Sales Lynn Dornau. “Going into spring break, its due to the bowlers, and we’re going to continue to see that trend up until they leave in July. Our booking pace is way ahead for March, April, May and June, about 18 percent compared to last year.”

About 1,200 bowlers a day will be on the Convention Center lanes, staying in town an average of three and a half days each. Every day 400 will leave the city and another 400 will arrive.

“This will actually be the biggest thing since we’ve opened,” Dornau said.

Even bigger than the 2010 USBC Women’s Open Championships, which El Paso also hosted.

“This is double the size,” Dornau said. “Same amount of time, maybe two weeks longer, but double the size.”

El Paso’s Motel-Hotel Association president said the bowling tournament will occupy more than 800 rooms a night for several months, or about 10 percent of the city’s more than 9,000 hotel rooms.

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