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The thunder of dozens of bowling balls connecting with hundreds of pins is soul shaking. No wonder the enormous 78-lane National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., is a spiritual domain for those who feel a deep connection to tenpins. But even for people better acquainted with misfired gutter balls, the stadium is worth a gawk.

"You go into that place and say whoo," says Jim Dressel, editor of Bowlers Journal International. "This is one of bowling's prominent edifices."

Dubbed "The Taj Mahal of Tenpins," the football arena-sized alley is awash in red and indigo neon. Visitors enter a four-story atrium centered on a 4,000-pound sculpture—a bronze homage to family recreation. During big events, walk-in oglers are free to linger in the spectators' gallery, marvel at the 440-foot-long video scoreboard, and take in the state-of-the-art machines that return balls at 30 miles per hour. After tournaments are over, the stadium closes briefly to resurface lanes, then opens to the public. Anyone can reserve a lane and try out a Fred Flintstone twinkle toes toss.

February 11 through April 28, catch a new tournament, the $1,000,000 Stadium Classic. Information: (800) 304-2695, www.renolaketahoe.com/bowl/.

Illustration by Michael Klein

This article was first published in November 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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