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  My Nickel’s Worth                                                     by Randy Ooney


The Off Season


The costs of operating a bowling center is more dollars than I can imagine.  Even established centers need to keep up with the Jones’s modernizing lane dressing machines, automatic scoring systems, upkeep of pinsetting and ball return equipment, masking units, and “NO SMOKING” or “NO HANDGUNS” signs  Then there are the customers who wince when asked to pay more than $3.00 per game to beat up on all that stuff.  After scratching out a living from September through April, the proprietor is faced with 4 months air conditioning bills for the handful of customers until the next season.


The PBA experience leagues have attracted a few summer shooters for those centers that wish to participate.  Poker games are popular at a few centers, but unless you’re at Canterbury Downs, you’re not allowed to play with real money.  Sundance in Dayton had a great idea; they built a golf course in the back yard of their bowling center.  That keeps the cash register working in the summer, but it’s another huge maintenance challenge.  You can enjoy a similar golf or bowl experience at Meadow Lanes North in Manitowoc Wisconsin.


So, what can we do to keep traffic flowing and balls rolling in the summertime?   Perhaps a widescreen blue tooth telecast of the Twins games would bring out 5 or 6 people  You could make them feel like they are at the Dome by selling beer for six bucks a bottle, and add a bag of popcorn for another two or three dollars.  Establish the tradition now, because in 2010, there could be a large following of baseball folks who choose not to sit in a 42 degree windstorm and drizzle, with the threat of a tornado looming.


If there’s not room for a golf course in the centers’ back yard, maybe a fishing hole would do.  This year you might only have to dig the hole, and the cloud bursts should have it filled in less than a week.  Then stock it with a dozen 5 pound walleye, and two or three thousand bullheads and carp to make it realistic  The center could then rent a fly casting outfit or a bamboo cane pole for  the clients to try their luck.  You could call it “Reel or No Reel” night.


You don’t hear much about karaoke anymore, but maybe a karaoke tournament would inspire fans to the bowling center.  I’m sure the “rock” in drock stands for something and I would match my rendition of “Mac the Knife” to the rocker anytime.  “Bet you Mackieeeeeee’s back in town”!


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