Aiming For the next level

Dart competition inspires bar renovation, new league

Posted: Friday, September 09, 2005

Juneau's recreational dart throwers are looking to raise their level of competition by creating a "power league" at Auke Bay.

When the Valley Dart League disbanded earlier this year, members met at Squires Rest and decided to fold some of the league's leftover money into helping renovate the lounge's throwing area, said Ted Quinn, who is helping organize the new league. Players also pledged their labor to the makeover.

Quinn said he thinks a power league - having a central location for matches - will make members play better, but also will raise the level of play for the Juneau Dart League by default.

"It's going to help out the serious players. That's what it was designed to do," Quinn said. "And with the valley league gone, maybe some of these people will be moving into the Juneau Dart League and it might help them promote it a little bit different and it should make their league stronger."

Squires Rest owner Troy Cunningham said he hopes the renovation will boost competition.

"They needed people to run the (valley) league and nobody was interested," Cunningham said. "The power league is kind of taking the place of the old valley league because there's interest in this type of tournament thing rather than going from bar to bar just to shoot darts."

Cunningham said he wants to have weekly sanctioned tournaments of 501 beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. He said the power league is designed for the top-notch players and will begin in late September or early October.

The renovation will include new carpet, wall surfacing, paint, new dart boards and improved lighting.

Phil Wheeler, who recently returned from the USA Dart Classic in Stamford, Conn., said he hopes the new tournament will improve Juneau's dart competition. Wheeler was one of four Alaskans to qualify for the national tournament, along with Juneau resident Robert Stamm

"Our players have gotten a lot better and actually been able to compete," said Wheeler. "It's encouraging, but there's people who want to get better and be more competitive. I think overall it will benefit the players who play a lot."

Wheeler said he recently volunteered with about a dozen other dart enthusiasts to help get Squires ready for the power league. He said Cunningham has been an important promoter of darts in the city.

"We want to make it something good for him because he's treated us pretty good over the last few years," Wheeler said. "The least we can do is go out and donate a bunch of labor and make it nice."

Greg Morgan, former president of the Valley Dart League, said the idea of a power league grew from the high level of play from the Whitehorse players at last year's Sister City Dart Tournament at Squires Rest.

"The Whitehorse guys pretty much beat up on these guys," Morgan said. "I guess they were saying they play more and they have the top players playing against each other a lot more."

Quinn said he thinks the Tuesday night power league will help tighten the competition with the Canadians.

• Eric Morrison can be reached at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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