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joel2me
03-15-2005, 08:25 AM
My name is Joel Twomey and I am an undergrad at Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL. I have been assigned a group project to research and discuss the current business model of any sport (where is the money, who gets it, how is it made) and then present new ideas and a new business model that I believe will generate greater revenue for the sport. My team has chosen billiards as our sport of choice and are looking for help to make a great presentation.

If anyone would like to contribute their knowledge and ideas about the current business of billiards whether it be manufactures, sponsors, professional winnings, how the system is structured etc. or has innovative and creative ideas they would like to contribute, your help would be greatly appreciated. We are basically looking for platforms to expand on and any ideas generated by discussion in this forum will be given credit if used in our presentation.

Thank you for your time and we hope to generate some interesting and innovative ideas through this process.

Again, Thank You,
- Joel Twomey

JAM
03-15-2005, 08:51 AM
You're taking on a worthy project. However, it's a difficult nut to crack. Everybody's got their own opinion on why the pool industry pales by comparison to other sports industries.

Currently, the tournament payouts are the same, if not less, than 30 years ago. Check out the pool magazines from the '70s and '80s, i.e., Pool and Billiards magazine, On the Snap, National Billiards News, and Billiards Digest. Some tournaments at that time paid MORE than tournaments today. The cost of living has risen drastically, which makes the payouts seem smaller than in years gone by. This is a financial burden on aspiring and pro pool players, and sometimes out of economic necessity, these players leave the sport. My personal experience from the past is that it costs anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to keep up with the pack. If an aspiring player wants to turn pro, it is quite difficult to do without being employed, unless you are independently wealthy. Without a sponsor, these players' abilities to attend events are quite limited, financially impossible in many cases.

There are some professional organizations which are labeled as the "governing body of professional pool." The mission of these organizations is to advance the sport and provide some benefit to its membership. The ladies organization, which is known as the WPBA, has advanced in recent times, and this is evident by the amount of television coverage they receive. The men's organization, which is known as the UPA, is fairly new, about 2 years old.

The BCA represents the pool industry members. This organization looks out for the interests of its members and has the goal to advance the sport. In my opinion, they concentrate their efforts on print media and industry members as opposed to the pool players themselves.

The majority of the pool public consists of social shooters, amateur players, and league members. There is not much interest generated by professional pool when it comes to the box office. However, if there is an event which includes leagues, they seem to generate more money (IMO).

Currently, pool seems to have not very many non-pool-related sponsors. Some top players like Allison Fisher, Efren Reyes, Earl Strickland, and Karen Corr do receive sponsorship in the form of monies from pool industry members. 99 percent of the rest, though, pay their own way.

The hope, if you can call it that, is that pool will elevate to a higher platform, which will then bring in outside monies in the form of non-pool-related sponsors. Some consider pool a game, and others consider it a sport. There's quite a few folks who can relay what's wrong with pool, but nobody seems to be able to come up with the answer to take it to the next level. Everybody -- tournament promoters, pool vendors, industry members, and pro players -- is chewing on the same bone, with not much meat on it.

That's my take on it. Good luck to you in your upcoming project. Keep us posted on the progress!

JAM

Jack Flanagan
03-15-2005, 09:54 AM
Everybody -- tournament promoters, pool vendors, industry members, and pro players -- is chewing on the same bone, with not much meat on it.

That's my take on it. Good luck to you in your upcoming project. Keep us posted on the progress!

JAM

I second that e-motion, JAM,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,jflan

Tbeaux
03-15-2005, 10:11 AM
Joel,

Sounds like an interesting project.There are "lots" of experts in all aspects of the billiards industry on this forum. They are from the americas,asia and europe, cuemakers,hall owners,collectors,players,tour and tourney direction,websites.Look around on the forums and you should easily find experts who can give you information,advice,opinions.I would contact those individuals using PM's otherwise you're likely to see your request for information get off track(LOL). JMHO

Terry

MFB
03-15-2005, 10:35 AM
I believe the biggest money generator in pool is the leagues. Consider either BCA, APA, ACS, or even VNEA as a business model. That's where the majority of organized players are.

Teacherman
03-15-2005, 11:14 AM
I highly recommend you go to the instructor and ask to change your sport.

OldHasBeen
03-15-2005, 11:22 AM
If anyone would like to contribute their knowledge and ideas about the current business in billiards.

That is a problem & a No, No.

Ty & GL

joel2me
03-15-2005, 01:37 PM
Why is this a No No?

joel2me
03-15-2005, 01:46 PM
We are not given enough time on this project to get into all the ins and outs of how every detail surrounding the sport operates. The name of the class is "The Economics of Sports." Our assignment for the class is to explain how the current business model of the sport generally leads to revenues and for whom and by whom. It is then our job to be creative and come up with a way in which to improve or change that business model in a way we feel would lead to better revenues. The place we need the biggest help in is determining where the money is now. From our basic knowledge their doesn't appear to be a Major League of Billiards like in baseball. So who determines who is a pro and who isn't? Who says one league is more legit than another? Is money from sponsors the main source of prize money? Is anyone salaried as a pro? Those are the type of questions we are looking for answers for in order to determine a business model for billiards. With knowledge of the way things work in billiards, we will hopefully be able to come up with new marketing techniques, or improve some aspect of the way things currently work.

Thanks again for anyone who feels like lending a hand. It would be much easier to pick a different sport as someone suggested but everyone does baseball and football and we feel billiards would be something fresh for class and are truly interested in knowing more about it. Thanks again - Joel

Teacherman
03-15-2005, 02:03 PM
One more time..........see if you can get a different sport.

rayjay
03-15-2005, 02:03 PM
You may want to try several searches of the archives here on AZ...this topic has been discussed several times and there's lots of opinions, many very knowledgable.
:p rayjay

frankncali
03-15-2005, 02:13 PM
You should receive an A on this one.

The current model is easy to see it does not produce. The reasons
why vary.
Whats frustrating is what will make it wasy for you. We all see ways to improve it. Not all the smae view but most in theory work.

I would take the current model and then compare it to Beach Volleyball and
Bowling. NOT to golf. Theres actually a little money in the volleyball and
bowling is setup pretty stable now.
It was revamped a few years back and that might help give you ideas.

Pool needs sponsors from outside the industry. Right now all the money is shuffled around and not much knew is brought in.
Good luck with your project but I believe at least in theory you will be able to easily make a good project.

Post a few questions here and you will get 100s of different answers and views. Just be prepared for them all.

Tbeaux
03-15-2005, 02:14 PM
Joel,

The money in billiards goes something like this
1) manufacturers - production cues,tables,cloth,balls,accessories..etc.
2) distributors of overseas made cues
3) "some" billiard hall owners
4) the larger internet billiard sales companies.
5) "some" tour and tournament organizations
6) BCA and APA leagues.

Billiards has been having a slow resurgance in popularity but has been more or less stagnant monetarily. Everyone has their opinions on what needs to be done (pretty much the same as your class assignment),so far,best models would be

1) WPBA- organization
2) Tiawan- teach billiards in high school
3) Yuppie billiard parlors offering time for teens and tournaments
4) Increased sponsorship from non billiards companies
5) Increased television - matches,special events,advertizing.
6) Increased participation in amatuer leagues.

Teacherman
03-15-2005, 02:21 PM
If I may give you a serious answer.

You're in an Economics of Sports class.

Therefore you should study the men's and women's pro tours.

Avoid the leagues (they are amateur), avoid the manufacturers other than to discuss their sponsorship of the pro tours and avoid the room owners. Those, to me, are different businesses outside the scope of your topic.

Figure out a way to get outside advertisers to sponsor professional pool.

Study what NASCAR did.....Study what golf did/does. Study bowling. Tennis. Compare all those to pool.

Figure out why we're lower than the bottom rung on the ladder.

Then figure out what you're going to say to Anheiser Busch, or Chevrolet, or Proctor and Gamble, or other national advertisers as to why they should take a chance on sponsoring the professional whiners.....I mean pool tour.

JAM
03-15-2005, 02:21 PM
We are not given enough time on this project to get into all the ins and outs of how every detail surrounding the sport operates. The name of the class is "The Economics of Sports." Our assignment for the class is to explain how the current business model of the sport generally leads to revenues and for whom and by whom.

Revenues are derived from pool-related sponsors; industry members, if you will. League organizations make money because of the masses of pool player members. The BCA makes money because its membership is print media and industry members. BCA website: http://www.bca-pool.com

99 percent of "pro players" pay their own travel expenses, entry fees, and associated expenses. When you attend a pool tournament with $20,000 added, which by the way is the NORM for tournament purses, that lasts 5, 6, and 7 days long, you have to come in fourth place to break even in most instances. Entry fees range from $100 to $500, depending on the event. $20,000 added means in addition to the collection of tournament entry fees. Then they slice the money up to the top 25 or 33-1/3 percent.

The expenses of attending pool tournaments far outweigh the tournament payouts. Most aspiring players who desire to go pro end up leaving the sport because they cannot make ends meet and want a different lifestyle.

It is then our job to be creative and come up with a way in which to improve or change that business model in a way we feel would lead to better revenues. The place we need the biggest help in is determining where the money is now.

Currently, it is the organizations which seem to derive the most financial gain, and those running the organizations.

From our basic knowledge their doesn't appear to be a Major League of Billiards like in baseball.

There is a BCA Hall of Fame. The candidates are selected by industry members. The BCA members, consisting of print media and industry members, then votes for the most qualified AND who will serve the BCA best (IMO). Legends of the game are often overlooked because these pool players won't bring financial gain to the membership of the BCA. The BCA's mission is to advance the sport. They've been around for quite a long time. Check out their website and there is lots of helpful info about the history of pool and what they are trying to do to get it out of the dark ages.

So who determines who is a pro and who isn't?

For the women's pro organization, the WPBA, there is a qualifying and ranking system which is available for full disclosure to its members. The lady pros have to compete and climb the ladder to be called a "pro player." WPBA website: http://www.wpba.com

For the pro men's organization, the UPA, an aspiring player can pay 100 bucks and be labeled a "UPA touring pro." UPA website: http://www.upa.com

Who says one league is more legit than another?

As of late, the leagues are plentiful. I'm not familiar with all the acronyms, but here's a few: BCA League, TAP, and APA. I'm sure I've missed a couple. There are strong feelings about one league being better than the other. The way I see it, if I wanted to play pool recreationally speaking, I'm going to join the league nearest to my home. Leagues are fun, and this is where the MAJORITY of pool players play. BCA League website: http://www.bcaleague.com TAP website: http://www.tapleague.com APA website: http://www.poolplayers.com

Is money from sponsors the main source of prize money?
Absolutely yes. There is very little outside monies. However, the World Summit of Pool held in Grand Central Station last year did get Amberbock to sponsor this event.

Is anyone salaried as a pro?

Earl Strickland and Allison Fisher are sponsored by Cuetec, a BIG industry member. Johnny Archer is sponsored by Olhausen, which is one of the GIANTS in the pool industry. They have individual arrangements with their sponsors which enable them to enjoy a fairly decent wage and lifestyle.

I heard it through the grapevine that Olhausen was going to go public with its stock, but then did not. They seem to be a VERY BIG SPONSOR at high-profile events. Olhausen does everything first class in the events I have witnessed. Very, very nice sponsor to players and tournament promoters alike. Mueller Recreational Products is another pool-related sponsor, very loyal to the sport (IMO). Diamond Tables is very popular. I see Diamond tables at the majority of tournaments I attend, and I go to quite a few.

I have to reserve comment about Brunswick because of personal reasons, but they're probably the OLDEST pool industry member. Sardo Rack is another loyal and dedicated sponsor. Then you've got Simonis cloth, whose name appears on every TV event, Aramith balls (another biggie).

As you may have noticed, these are ALL pool-related sponsors. Out of all of the above, I happen to like Olhausen the BEST.

For pool players, pros and aspiring pros, most do actually pay their own way. They are not salaried. The lifestyle is such that many do have full-time jobs to support their interest in pool. Because of the financial hardships endured by most, these unsalaried pro pool players end up leaving the sport for good. The existing lot of "professional" players is truly diminishing.

Ironically, pool isn't a big money-maker in Europe either. AND many lady aspiring pro players come to the States to live out their dreams because the opoprtunities for women overseas isn't as prevalent as it is for the men. Snooker, on the other hand, that might have been a better pick for your study, Joel! Snooker is a money-maker, at least that's what I've been reading.

Philippines' number-one celebrity is Efren Reyes, a professional pool player. He was recently inducted into the Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame. Pool is very popular in the Philippines, shown on TV live in many instances.

Accu-Stats and Billiard Club Network provide recording services to the industry. If you were to speak to these entities, they may be able to provide further insight that may be helpful to your study.

Those are the type of questions we are looking for answers for in order to determine a business model for billiards. With knowledge of the way things work in billiards, we will hopefully be able to come up with new marketing techniques, or improve some aspect of the way things currently work.

I am hoping to hear more about this project, Joel2me, as it develops. Maybe a look at the industry from the outside looking in may be the ticket. Your study will be objective and may come up with some GREAT ideas. Good luck.

JAM

Tbeaux
03-15-2005, 02:34 PM
Figure out a way to get outside advertisers to sponsor professional pool.

Study what NASCAR did.....Study what golf did/does. Study bowling. Tennis. Compare all those to pool.

Figure out why we're lower than the bottom rung on the ladder.

Then figure out what you're going to say to Anheiser Busch, or Chevrolet, or Proctor and Gamble, or other national advertisers as to why they should take a chance on sponsoring the professional whiners.....I mean pool tour.

The WPBA is probably doing the "best"(subjective) job of attracting new players.So maybe think also in terms of womens products (makeup etc).

woody_968
03-15-2005, 04:22 PM
For the pro men's organization, the UPA, an aspiring player can pay 100 bucks and be labeled a "UPA touring pro." UPA website: http://www.upa.com
JAM

Great post Jam, but I think you wanted http://www.upatour.org/ :)

joel2me
03-16-2005, 09:43 AM
Wow, first of all let me say thanks to everyone that's been able to get us going in the right direction here. I've checked out all the websites you've suggested and have learned a lot so far. One of the things I'm a little confused on is how some of the organizations work. Are the BCA and APA for example in competition with one another? Or is what's good for one is good for the other? Also, when it comes to the pros, is there a point system that determines who is the best and therefore who takes home top dollar, or is it whoever can get out there and make the most money, as I believe it is in golf, would be considered the top pro? At first glance is seems currently the only way to increase revenues in this sport is to increase popularity. If more people are interested, more tables and cues will be sold, more people will pay membership dues to join leagues, and more outside sponsors will join leading to bigger events and more prize money. Does this sound accurate? There seem to be loads of "governing associations" and organizations. Is the fact that so many people have their hand in it and trying to move it one way or the other the reason its so hard to get this sport moving in the up direction? Would it work, or even be possible, to create one official association that handles this sport from top to bottom? Thanks again for all the help.

lewdo26
03-16-2005, 09:55 AM
Wow, first of all let me say thanks to everyone that's been able to get us going in the right direction here. I've checked out all the websites you've suggested and have learned a lot so far. One of the things I'm a little confused on is how some of the organizations work. Are the BCA and APA for example in competition with one another? Or is what's good for one is good for the other? Also, when it comes to the pros, is there a point system that determines who is the best and therefore who takes home top dollar, or is it whoever can get out there and make the most money, as I believe it is in golf, would be considered the top pro? At first glance is seems currently the only way to increase revenues in this sport is to increase popularity. If more people are interested, more tables and cues will be sold, more people will pay membership dues to join leagues, and more outside sponsors will join leading to bigger events and more prize money. Does this sound accurate? There seem to be loads of "governing associations" and organizations. Is the fact that so many people have their hand in it and trying to move it one way or the other the reason its so hard to get this sport moving in the up direction? Would it work, or even be possible, to create one official association that handles this sport from top to bottom? Thanks again for all the help.
Joel, I haven't read all the thread so I don't know if this was mentioned already, but you should check out last month's Billiards Digest. There are two extensive articles in it about the movers and shakers in the billiards world. There is also an article on the battle between the different league organizations. You should also look into the UPA vs. BCA bout. Another source might be right here on AZ, they list the tournament earnings for top players by year.

Tbeaux
03-16-2005, 10:25 AM
.... is there a point system that determines who is the best and therefore who takes home top dollar, or is it whoever can get out there and make the most money, as I believe it is in golf, would be considered the top pro? At first glance is seems currently the only way to increase revenues in this sport is to increase popularity. If more people are interested, more tables and cues will be sold, more people will pay membership dues to join leagues, and more outside sponsors will join leading to bigger events and more prize money. Does this sound accurate? There seem to be loads of "governing associations" and organizations. Is the fact that so many people have their hand in it and trying to move it one way or the other the reason its so hard to get this sport moving in the up direction? Would it work, or even be possible, to create one official association that handles this sport from top to bottom? Thanks again for all the help.

There are many point systems. Winning determines who takes home top dollar.
BINGO, increased popularity. There are millions of billiards players,but most are very casual players.
Yes,absolutely right to many chiefs,problems in having one governing organization in no particular order.....
1) national borders
2) sex (women have more or less had to go on their own)
3) amatuer-pro status
4) regulations, rules and standards
5) different games (9-ball,8-ball,snooker,3 cushion,etc)
6) greed (who gets the revenue)