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Personal pitch, mermaid included, helps win tourney
The county beats out Tampa to host thestate bowling championship in 2009.
By KELLIE DIXON, Times Staff Writer
Published October 10, 2007
SPRING HILL - The Hernando County Bowling Association took a chance last weekend in its bid for the 2009 Florida State Bowling Championships. It figured it had to, considering that Tampa was the competition.
So rather than host a traditional Friday night social hour, the association, with help from the county tourism office, brought a Weeki Wachee mermaid for pictures and autographs. A video from Google Earth flashed on a nearby wall, showing bowlers how easy it is to get around in Hernando County.
During the official presentation on Sunday, the association used testimonials and video rather than stale slides.
Throughout the weekend, the county promised a 900 - a perfect series - experience for the bowlers.
The creativity paid off, and Hernando County beat out Tampa for the tournament. It will be the first time Hernando has played host to the championships.
The event is expected to funnel about $4.5-million into the economy. Mariner Lanes and Spring Hill Lanes, both in Spring Hill, will host the event, which runs from the end of April to June in 2009, bringing in about 1,000 bowlers each weekend.
Bob Peters, executive director of the Florida State Bowling Association's board of directors, got feedback from the delegates and said that several factors - including cheaper accommodations and less traffic - helped sway votes.
Another thing "that really impressed the delegates," Peters said, "was the fact that both bowling house proprietors were there to represent their centers, whereas Tampa didn't have a single one."
Hernando County Bowling Association president John Leverock, association manager Ron Ditt and George Martin started on the project in 2006 and got the tourism office involved. The team of presenters for the bid included Ditt, tourism director Sue Rupe, Spring Hill Lanes owner George Martin, Mariner Lanes owner Rafael Hernandez and Holiday Inn Express general manager Jenny Burdett.