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 Post subject: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:56 pm Post Number: #1 Post
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If not already so, will league bowling be relegated to wretched outcast status ?



How are things in your area?

Will league bowling die the death that almost all stars that burn brightly do?

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:10 pm Post Number: #2 Post
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The Men’s leagues in the East Suburbs of Tampa are strong, we have 40 teams for TB Men’s versus the 30 on mixed league on Tuesday. I believe Monday is the only day they don’t have a league at my main center.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:43 pm Post Number: #3 Post
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In my area the leagues in area are still doing well. There seems to be a bowling alley shutting down every couple of years so the leagues have to go to the houses that still are open. Steve

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:47 pm Post Number: #4 Post
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The bowling community seems healthy and stable in Tucson, although the market is not what it was in the late 90's.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:28 pm Post Number: #5 Post
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In Northern Virginia and suburb Maryland first shift leagues are very strong but, compared to the past, second shift leagues are very weak. Weak, bad and inappropriate marketing is the major problem for bowling-the-institution.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:15 pm Post Number: #6 Post
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NW Chicago Suburbs, independent houses seem to do fine. Bowlmor (aka Bowl-less) is focusing on entertainment, parties and casual bowlers. Some centers they are converting to lounge settings. They spend a lot of money on remodeling the bar, putting in lights and projectors, but are too cheap to buy a part to fix the lane oiling machine when it breaks down (according to a mechanic who found work elsewhere).


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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:52 pm Post Number: #7 Post
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Second shift leagues, What are those?

I'm in Muskegon Mi home of Brunswick.
We used to have 15 bowling alleys in a 20 mile radius.
We are down to 7 bowling alleys.
2-50 lanes houses, 2-16 lane, 1-12 lane, 1-8 lane and 1-6 lane house.

One of the 50 lane houses is going downhill quickly. 1950's style quonset hut style building that is getting into disrepair. Lack of maintenance to the building, lanes, pinsetters and score keepers. They did just get a new lane machine but the topography is so far out of wack they should have just kept the old one and fixed the roof with the money spent.
The only thing they really have going for them is they have waitresses.

The other 50 lane house has 2 bars but no wait staff. If you are bowling on lane 1 and want a craft beer you have to walk down to lane 40. The small bar at lane 10 has very limited selections

Second shift leagues are almost non-existent.
Back before the turn of the century and you wanted to get into bowling, 2nd shift leagues were the only ones with available openings.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:04 am Post Number: #8 Post
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Things seem to be doing pretty well in Central PA. There's 5 main centers 16-24 lanes within a half hour drive of where I live (small town PA btw), and a few small "private" alleys (legions and the like 4-8 lanes) and most if not all are running leagues every night of the week (a few even on Sundays) and a good deal of them are running early and late leagues or splitting leagues into early/late "shifts".

If you're not bowling in a league, trying to get a lane outside of a "Rock n Bowl" night is nearly impossible. Come to think of it, I think the center in my town is being kept open and thriving on league play alone, he even runs in house non-sanction leagues in the summer to keep the bills paid, and he does pretty well with those. In fact I just heard the other day that he's finally replacing the nearly 80 year old natural lanes with synthetics. Not sure how it is in the rest of the state, but in my little section of the world, league play and high school bowling are keeping the lanes alive and busy.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:45 pm Post Number: #9 Post
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EricHartwell wrote:
Second shift leagues, What are those?

I'm in Muskegon Mi home of Brunswick.
We used to have 15 bowling alleys in a 20 mile radius.
We are down to 7 bowling alleys.
2-50 lanes houses, 2-16 lane, 1-12 lane, 1-8 lane and 1-6 lane house.

One of the 50 lane houses is going downhill quickly. 1950's style quonset hut style building that is getting into disrepair. Lack of maintenance to the building, lanes, pinsetters and score keepers. They did just get a new lane machine but the topography is so far out of wack they should have just kept the old one and fixed the roof with the money spent.
The only thing they really have going for them is they have waitresses.

The other 50 lane house has 2 bars but no wait staff. If you are bowling on lane 1 and want a craft beer you have to walk down to lane 40. The small bar at lane 10 has very limited selections

Second shift leagues are almost non-existent.
Back before the turn of the century and you wanted to get into bowling, 2nd shift leagues were the only ones with available openings.


I’d say it’s more of a reflection of Michigan than it is bowling. Like California, I believe more people are leaving than moving there.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:20 pm Post Number: #10 Post
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44boyd wrote:

I’d say it’s more of a reflection of Michigan than it is bowling. Like California, I believe more people are leaving than moving there.

That is so true.
To relate it to the topic of this thread economics is why there is a decline in league bowling for sure here in Michigan.
Tom Smallwood went pro because of the downsizing of GM. He still bowls league and kills us in brackets at our State tournament.
I have to compete against Andrew Anderson and Charlie Brown Jr too.
I've learned to stay away from the scratch brackets when they are in our squads.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:14 pm Post Number: #11 Post
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Yeah I’ve got Tom Daugherty and a million Kegel robots to deal with here in Tampa. Don’t think it will get easier when I hit 50 either lol

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:52 pm Post Number: #12 Post
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Leagues are doing decently well in the Houston area. My center (AMF) still has several leagues that make enough money for the center that they still cater to them somewhat. But open play makes more.

One issue I see is league bowlers have historically been used to paying a discounted lineage rate since they are guaranteeing 3 games each and will hit the bar up and perhaps get some food. This is my history of bowling as a bowler and a former AMF assistant manager. Unfortunately, open bowling is much more expensive than it used to be and the difference between league lineage and open pay lineage is so large the center has to put more energy into open play. The one way to bring leagues back to the forefront is to make them more profitable to the center than open play.

The bad news is this means more money out of the league bowler's pocket. Does this mean $6-7/game lineage (or perhaps more)? Maybe. Bowlers don't eat at the snack bar as much. Some don't drink as much. And when you compare those components to the open bowler and what they spend, the gap on money spent is even larger.

The same thing happened to golf, though for different reasons. After Tiger came onto the scene, green fees skyrocketed and you had several new golf courses opening trying to meet the demand of the new golfers. Eventually, the demand waned and golf courses started closing at an alarming rate. Automatic pinsetters may have been bowling's Tiger Woods and now we are seeing the demise of many centers.

League bowlers will be second class citizens until league bowling is the most profitable bowling for the center. So unless we are willing to spend more for our version of bowling entertainment, you will just have to accept it.


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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:11 pm Post Number: #13 Post
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There has been a distinct downturn in leagues in my area. Not too long after I quit bowling around 10 years ago, one of the 3 alleys in my city closed. Sadly enough, it was widely considered the best house in town, but the owners were putting all of their money into the other one they owned in town. Now, as I'm getting back into bowling and looking around at the leagues, most have gone to coed in order to fill even 1 league instead of being able to have enough for separate leagues. Many nights the alley doesn't even use all the lanes on first shift, and many nights there isn't even a second shift. Some leagues have dropped to 3 person teams just so they have enough teams to fill 1/2 the lanes. I put this on the economy here more than anything though, as we've also lost one of the golf courses in the area and the cost of rounds of golf have dropped significantly as well.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:24 pm Post Number: #14 Post
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Took up bowling in the early 80's (in Arizona , relocated from another state) after being badgered by coworkers to join a lunch time league at the University. Got the fever. At that point the local houses I went to were fully stocked. Open bowling had waiting lists.
Second shift was full (men's league) .
My favorite league was second shift, Friday evening, 40+lane house.
We had about 1 300 a season at that time, so it was a happening ...
Times changed, no more Chris Schenkel, Denny Schreiner, about 6 houses have closed ...

Some places are still booming, I'd be interested to see demographics both here and abroad.

I do miss those times, of course I also miss the days in major league sports where good teams were constructed by scouting and development and not by deep pockets.

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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:23 pm Post Number: #15 Post
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Ballsinthegutter wrote:
Things seem to be doing pretty well in Central PA. There's 5 main centers 16-24 lanes within a half hour drive of where I live (small town PA btw), and a few small "private" alleys (legions and the like 4-8 lanes) and most if not all are running leagues every night of the week (a few even on Sundays) and a good deal of them are running early and late leagues or splitting leagues into early/late "shifts".

If you're not bowling in a league, trying to get a lane outside of a "Rock n Bowl" night is nearly impossible. Come to think of it, I think the center in my town is being kept open and thriving on league play alone, he even runs in house non-sanction leagues in the summer to keep the bills paid, and he does pretty well with those. In fact I just heard the other day that he's finally replacing the nearly 80 year old natural lanes with synthetics. Not sure how it is in the rest of the state, but in my little section of the world, league play and high school bowling are keeping the lanes alive and busy.


Truth for Central PA. There are some issues with filling teams and individuals in some cases but overall leagues seem to be hanging in there. Also the tournament scene for youth is pretty good, centers around here favor the youth/adult style tournament for scholarship money for youth. There are a couple centers on the market in this area, hopefully they go to new ownership who keeps them as bowling centers.


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 Post subject: Re: An Inconvenient Truth, the death of league bowling ???
 Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:43 am Post Number: #16 Post
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South Alabama here. Mobile is the only large city; it lost Florida Bowl about three years ago, a real boneyard of a house but it was still a historic place. Best I can tell, Camellia and Skyline are both still open (32 and 24 lanes) but I drove past Skyline the other day and the neighborhood has really gone downhill.

Outside of that, you've got 3 centers in all of Baldwin County, which is booming. One of those centers, I'm told, is barely hanging on. I don't know how big any of them are.

Go north from there and for the next 150 miles there is exactly one place, a 16-lane center at a casino in Atmore where I bowl. If the casino didn't exist, we wouldn't have the bowling alley. It's a strange setup -- every four lanes is set at a different forward/backward depth than the next four, meaning the approaches don't line up. Great local advantage when outsiders come in for tournaments, though. Leagues are restricted to the last 12 lanes. Great old guy from Ohio runs it for them. We only have two leagues, though. About 60 bowlers total.

When I was growing up here, there were centers in Jackson, Monroeville, Brewton, Selma and Atmore (non-casino). There may have been centers in Evergreen and Thomasville. All gone. Monroe Lanes was the last to go. Still had on-top ball returns and unconverted Brunswick A-1 machines.

Tuscaloosa is losing an old family-run house (Leland), and AMF is opening up one of those non-league places (Bowlero) and may end up closing its league house (Bama) in town. That would leave a city of about 150k metro-area with no league house. Birmingham has lost a couple of houses. Montgomery is down from three to two. Huntsville has lost three despite being one of the fastest growing cities in America. Prattville has a good house. There are probably another 5-10 around the state where there used to be another 20.

The sport's dying, folks. You can look at your age demographics and tell that. It's not just us. Golf is in worse shape, all things considered. Younger people don't seem to care much about either sport. We've got a smattering of younger folks on our leagues here where I live but only a couple of them take it seriously. For most, it's plastic balls and beer.

The biggest problem I see outside of the age deal is we're starting to see a few houses in the state not bother with sanctioning the leagues. It's a mixture of just not giving a rip, and having trouble getting volunteers to work for the association, inspect lanes, etc.

I try to keep up hope, be positive, think that the youngest among us will surprise me one day and rediscover the sport, but it hasn't happened yet.

Jess


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