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St. Pete’s ‘Wimbledon of shuffleboard’ hosts World Championships

Mark Parker

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The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, the world's largest and longest running facility, will host the International Shuffleboard Association's World Championships next week. All photos: St. Pete Shuffle.

The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club will not officially turn 100 until January 2024; however, the historic facility’s centennial celebrations begin Monday.

The International Shuffleboard Association (ISA) selected the Shuffleboard Club, at 559 Mirror Lake Dr., to host its 40th annual World Championships from Oct. 23 through Oct. 27. The prestigious tournament will bring 100 players representing eight countries to St. Petersburg.

Christine Page, executive director of the club, noted that officials founded the ISA at the facility. Despite that history, the city hasn’t hosted the World Championships in a decade.

“This year, it’s really special because we wanted to use it to kick off our 100th anniversary,” Page said. “I say we’re like the Wimbledon of shuffleboard or the Fenway Park of shuffleboard.”

The Shuffleboard Club opened in 1924 and is now a part of St. Petersburg culture.

The club is older than London’s Wimbledon Stadium, which opened in 1928, and just 12 years younger than Boston’s Fenway Park, which opened in 1912. The officially designated local historic landmark is the world’s longest-running and largest shuffleboard club, with 32 lighted courts and 65 total.

The sport involves players using cues to push weighted discs down a court and into a scoring area. Page said officials standardized global rules at the facility in 1928.

The World Championships begin Monday at 8:30 a.m., with players gathering for a Parade of Nations. Participants hail from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, including local club members.

Page said the U.S. teams include several people from New York and Chicago. About 90 players live outside the area or country, and she said they would bring their families to the week-long event.

“They’re staying in the hotels and shopping,” Page added. “We’re really pushing local businesses in the swag bags. So, hopefully, they’re walking around on Central (Avenue) … and going to museums.”

The first round of play begins at 10:30 a.m. Monday, with the final round starting at around 3:30 p.m. The tournament will follow that schedule through Thursday, Oct. 26.

The 15th and final men’s and women’s rounds are Friday, Oct. 27, at 1:30 p.m. Page said the event is “absolutely” open to anyone who wants to watch championship shuffleboard.

She said the stands “were filled” for the 2013 finals – when the club had 300 members. That number has ballooned to 2,600 in the past decade.

Page noted that the facility can seat 288 people and hopes to fill the bleachers throughout the week. “I think we will,” Page said. “I know some of those members have taken off work so they can come watch the games …”

The World Championships, and the Oct. 27 Friday Night Shuffle after-party, are open to the public.

Those who miss the tournament can watch daily replays on the ISA’s YouTube Channel throughout next week. The organization will broadcast the first-place matches live Friday, Oct. 27.

Page said Cycle Brewing also plans to host watch parties downtown. She credited the city’s support to opening the club to the public on Friday nights about 18 years ago.

She said people realized the game provided family fun and called the facility “magical” and “irresistible.” Page began her career there as a volunteer in 2005 and said she never tires of watching new people experience the Friday night events.

“They see all the courts and the lights, and the music is playing, and there’s 200 people playing and laughing and having fun,” she added. “Their jaw just drops.”

Club officials typically charge $10 for non-members to participate in the weekly Friday Night Shuffle. However, Page said she is waiving fees for an expanded version that will serve as the World Championship’s after-party.

She said staff recently painted glow-in-the-dark lines on a set of courts, and the event, which runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 27, will also feature a DJ. Page expects a significant crowd throughout the day.

“The finals at 1:30 (p.m.) are going to be packed because it’s only eight players – all the other international players will be in the stands,” Page explained. “You might not know exactly what’s going on, but they know what’s going on, and the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’ I mean it’s just really fun.”

For more information on the 40th annual ISA World Championships at the St. Petersburg Shuffle Board Club, visit the website here.

 

 

 

 

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