The state of Wisconsin has exciting billiard news! On October 1st, 2017, a brand new nonprofit organization was founded, making them the first state to officially have their own billiards hall of fame. The Wisconsin Billiards Hall of Fame (WIBHOF) was founded with the intent to honor and induct individuals from the sport while also functioning as a charitable foundation, aiming to give back to the Wisconsin billiards community in need.
President and Founder, Jon Kramer explained that, “There is a great history of billiards in our state, and up until now, nothing was set up to preserve it. Many individuals have dedicated their lives to the sport, and our organization wanted to give them the recognition they deserve.” Kramer, along with 6 other board members took on the task of bringing the company to life after beginning planning started in April of this year.
The WIBHOF will recognize pool players, cue makers, instructors, pool hall owners, and anyone who has influenced the game for the betterment of others. They are eligible based on career accomplishments, or outstanding contributions to the sport. Once per year the organization will be hosting a hall of fame weekend comprised of an awards dinner banquet and hosting a money added tournament for their members.
Over the past few months, the WIBHOF has produced a high-quality website that will house all the information for the organization. Wibhof.org provides an abundance of content for its visitors, including voting, memberships, image gallery, popular game rules and much more. Kramer discussed the need for a reliable source of information for the state in regard to pool. “We have around 10,000 league and tournament players in Wisconsin and people are always discussing on social media trying to find places to play.” WIBHOF has built a feature into the website specifically for tournaments that functions similar to how people navigate movies on Netflix. This user-friendly structure organizes tournament flyers and will keep players continually coming back and provide more value to the organization’s sponsors. “About 80% of the people visiting our site use their smartphones, so it was important to have a responsive website so the experience was pleasant regardless of the device you use,” said Kramer. Within their first week, WIBHOF has had thousands of views of their site, reaching 33 states and 7 countries.
Funding for the non-profit going forward will be primarily through corporate sponsorships which include trade opportunities. The organization plans to provide great benefits to its members who pay a nominal fee each year for voting rights, and the ability to nominate future hall of famers. The banquet and tournament are also members only events. In addition, each month there will be random drawings and prize giveaways to members, and the organization is happy to allow members that do not live in the state so anyone can participate who wants to help promote pool and help support their foundation. 100% of the funds from memberships is given back to the billiards community. A portion will be used as money added to the WIBHOF tournament each year, but the majority will benefit the charitable arm of the organization.
The WIBHOF would like to thank the hundreds of people who helped make the company possible. All signs are pointing in the right direction. Kramer said, “We hope that our website is a resource that people will use often, but mostly we hope we made something that will make our future Hall of Famer’s proud.”