The first discussions for an Illinois Bowling Hall of Fame, was at the IBA annual meeting on Sunday, December 9, 1962 at the Congress Hotel, in Chicago.

The twenty charter members selected where announced, at the annual Illinois Bowling Officials Jamboree, at Pekin, on Sunday, October 19, 1969.

The first IBA Hall of Fame ceremony, with a dinner, was on Saturday, October 12, 1974, at Peoria, as a part of a changed format for the annual Council of Delegates meeting.


Illinois held the first state tournament in the nation in 1898, with six teams, all from Chicago bowling leagues  The doubles event was added in 1904.  The Illinois state tournament is the world’s oldest sanctioned (ABC/USBC).

The very first American Bowling Congress tournament was held in 1901 in Chicago, at the Welsbach Building, January 8--11,used six lanes, with 41 teams, 78 doubles and 115 singles.

The bowling fee for the 1911 state tournament was fifty cents a series.  The center received ¼ of that fee, the scorekeeper was paid three cents a game, the chief scorer was paid one cent a game, the auditor was paid ½ cent a game, the secretary was paid three cents a game and the floor manager was paid $3.50 per day.

The 1912 American Bowling Congress tournament was awarded Chicago in 1911, as Milwaukee decided not to bid for the tournament.  It was held at the International Amphitheatre, using 18 lanes.  It had 596 teams, 1415 doubles and 2894 singles.  It ran from March 2 thru March 24.

The 1924 American Bowling Congress tournament was held in Chicago, at the Chicago Amory, February thru March 26, on 28 lanes.  There were 2132 teams, 4702 doubles and 9451 singles.

The 1929 American Bowling Congress tournament held in Chicago at the Dexter Park Pavilion, March 2 thru April 9, on 32 lanes.  There were 2523 teams, 4917 doubles and 9888 singles.

The 1938 American Bowling Congress tournament was held in Chicago at the Chicago Coliseum, March 3 thru April 19, on 40 lanes.  There were 4957 teams, 8620 doubles and 17441 singles.

The last ABC tournament held in Chicago, was in 1953 at the Chicago Coliseum, February 21 thru May 24 on 40 lanes.  There were 8180 teams, 14862 doubles and 29817 singles.

The largest Illinois state tournament was in 1958 at Chicago’s Gateway Recreation.  There were 2238 teams, 2116 doubles, 4232 singles and 3646 all-events.  Note:  It is highly doubtful this record will ever be broken, mainly because the means to accomplish it no longer exist, i.e., for many years Chicago league’s paid ten cents a night to the proprietor, who in turn, sponsored a team from each league for the state tournament.  This practice eventually ceased.

The IBA used automatic pin setting machines (AMF), for the first time, at the 57th annual state tournament, in 1954, at Gabby Hartnett’s, in Lincolnwood.

The concept for a split state format for the state tournament was a result of discussions on October 24, 1982, at an IBA annual board of directors meeting, held in Springfield.

The IBA awarded a free team entry if someone entered four teams at the 1985 tournament, at Holiday Bowl, in Harwood Heights.  (enter four teams, pay for only three teams).

In 1987, at Town & Country Lanes, Joliet, the concept was changed to a paid team entry for every five teams entered.  (enter five teams, pay for four teams).

In 1988, at Park Lanes, Loves Park, the concept changed to a squad organizer receiving $35 for every five person team entered.

Starting with the 1993 sectional tournament concept, a squad organizer would be paid $25 for every four five person team entered.

The first split state tournament was in 1990.  The North sectional was at Strike n Spare II, Joliet; and the South sectional was at Spillway Lanes, Springfield.

Effective with the 1997 Council of Delegates meeting, a local association having someone from their association attending both the Council of Delegates meeting, and Sunday workshop, that association would receive a free five person team entry for the following year’s state tournament.

The IBA experimented with televising the championship roll-off, for showing later, at Landmark Recreation in 1997.  It was tried again in 1998, at Landmark Recreation.  It was discontinued in 1999, as several roll-off participants would not show up, and an overall lack of interest.

The E-Z check in system for the state tournament started with the 1999 state tournament.  The bowler’s would find their name on a list posted by the office, which also showed their average, and assigned lanes. They then only had to be ready to bowl at their start time.

A free entry for the regular tournament all-events started with the 2000 state tournament.

The state tournament lanes used to be dressed once a day, thru the1999 tournament.  Starting with the 2000 tournament, the lanes were dressed in the head area, after each day’s second squad.  This proved to be not great for scoring.  Beginning with the 2003 tournament, the lanes were stripped and dressed after the second squad of each tournament day.

 The championship roll-off between sectional champions was discontinued with the 2001 state tournament, as the bowlers grew increasingly disinterested with a roll-off format, with some championships being decided by forfeit.  Instead, this was the start of declaring sectional co-champions, scratch and handicap.  However, the scratch all events champions, at each sectional, continued to have their entry paid for the ABC Masters tournament.

The tournament changed to an all handicap event starting with the 2005 tournament.  Additionally, optional scratch events were offered for each of the events, at a nominal fee.  In addition, the prize ratio for team, doubles and singles changed from one in seven, to one in five.

Discussions for a state Senior Tournament took place at the IBA board meeting, November 26, 1972, in Chicago.

Illinois’s first state Senior Tournament was in Champaign, in 1980.  There were 135 doubles, 272 singles and 251 all-events.

The first state Senior Tournament, allowing female participants, was in Springfield in 1983.


At the March 19, 1899 IBA board of directors meeting, the state association consisted of six leagues in Chicago.  They voted to send invitations to associations of Peoria, Pekin and Bloomington, asking if they wanted to be a part of  the state association.

The 1963-1964 season had the largest number of bowling centers in Illinois, 804 centers, 10,860 lanes, and 7,984 leagues.

The first discussions to form the Illinois Bowling Council, was held at an IBA board meeting held in Decatur, in 1983.

The first Illinois Bowling Council meeting was held in February, 1986, and ceased in 2007.

The Illinois Prairie State Games, including bowling, was in 1986.  The bowling event was eliminated a few years later.

As of the 2007-2008 season, 49 Illinois local bowling associations have a Bowling Hall of Fame.

On average, between 11-15 of our associations send a delegate to the annual ABC convention.

On average, between 10-15 of our associations send a delegate to the annual Council of Delegates meeting, held in October.

The Illinois Bowling Association ceased operating under that name, effective May 19, 2006.  It became the Illinois United States Bowling Congress BA, effective May 20, 2006.