When Peter and Bobby Farrelly needed a place to film their ultimate bowling showdown, the choice was obvious. After all, as the National Bowling Stadium says: “All lanes lead to Reno.”
Kingpin, the 1996 Farrelly Brothers comedy starring Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson, shines a bright, and only slightly exaggerated, light on the world of professional bowling. However there is no way they could have fully capture what happens inside these 363,000 square feet of bowling Mecca. The Stadium was built in 1995, a year before the film was released, and it was the perfect place for Murray and Harrelson to face off, pro tournament-style. Five stories of polished, buffed and waxed bowling Paradise is spread out over eight acres of floor space, including 78 tournament lanes, room for 1200 bowling fanatics to watch, bowling-themed clubs, and even a movie theater. Its nickname, the “Taj Mahal of Tenpins,” is no exaggeration.
It’s called a Stadium for a reason — they don’t cater to you and your friends who want to bowl a few frames on a Friday night. These 78 lanes are for the professionals and tournament amateurs, but you are welcome to have your game assessed by their specialized CATS Lane (that’s the Computer Aided Tracking System for you casual bowlers out there), which will take a look at your form and give you some tips and suggestions for improvement. There’s no guarantee that CATS won’t also have an opinion about that bowling shirt you like so much, but you take your chances.
The National Bowling Stadium is also home to a satellite branch of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. The collection includes historic bowling equipment, memorabilia and tons of information about Hall of Famers and bowling icons.
There is more than one kind of bowling in this world: duckpin and candlepin in the Northeast, old fashioned lawn bowling, and Italian bocce. The National Bowling Stadium is classic, straight-up ten-pin. It isn’t the world’s largest venue — compared to Japan’s 116-lane Inazawa Grand Bowl, these 78 lanes might feel downright cozy. But where else can you say there’s a building with an 80-foot bowling ball out front, where Bill Murray threw three strikes in a row and Woody Harrelson bowled with a rubber hand. Like they say: All lanes lead to Reno
Know Before You Go
The National Bowling Stadium is in downtown Reno, across the street from the Reno Events Center and just a few blocks south of I-80. In addition to the bowling, club, and screening facilities, there is a satellite exhibit from the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, open every day from 8 am to 5 pm. Admission is free.
As of May 13, 2022, the stadium is only open for bowling tournaments and special events. Plan accordingly if you want to visit.