Amid Floods and Closures, Wisconsin’s Bowling Industry Suffers


Bowling pins topple, teeter, spin and fly. But this summer in Wisconsin, they’ve also been charred by flames and soaked with floodwater, while others are headed into retirement.

In July, fire destroyed the Friendship Bar & Bowl in Adams County. Meanwhile, in Sheboygan County, JB’s Entertainment Center in Howards Grove has announced it will close its 12 lanes, while The Lanes in Cascade will shutter its six-lane facility.
Floodwaters gave another blow to two bowling facilities in Dane County last month, but the owners swear to reopen.

Damage to Schwoegler’s Park Towne Lanes in Madison can earn $ 1 million by escaping the plant’s 36 lanes from a drowned detention pond. Team strips have begun to unfold and bowling will not return until mid-November, according to the latest post on Schwoegler’s Facebook page. However, the bar and restaurant will be reopened this week and the banquet hall will be ready by 10 September.

After filling the basement of the job in the western, dreary, downtown area, the Black Earth Strips were temporarily closed. Eight bowling rails, ball turn and pin adjustment machines are fine, but the cooling, compressors and beer warehouses and thousands of warehouses collapsed in the food and beverages stored below.

Schwoegler and the Black World Lanes were not covered by flood insurance.

Remarkably, the four strips, bars and restaurants in Main Street Lanes were less than two blocks from the Black Underground Creek in Cross Plains, while a few centimeters of water were in the basement and were relatively undamaged.

“I made a little drip on a return machine that did not even fill a 2 gallon bucket,” said Eric Eberle, an Arizona transporter who bought a business in April and lives in an apartment block above. “I was very, very lucky. And I know that. ”
Disasters and economy continue to be one of the state’s cultural staples – according to industry figures, 50 bowling facilities have been lost since 2014. The losses include Rimrock Road since 1977 and Badger Bowl, a bowling and music center in Beltline, Madison. It was bulldozed in 2017, and Madison Jaguar Land Rover Volvo, which opened last month, was replaced by a $ 6.5 million car dealership.

According to the Wisconsin State Newspaper, the state has about 300 bowling facilities. They range from historic operations to manual installations, to mega installations such as the 72-lane AMF Bowlero in Wauwatosa, the state’s largest. About one-third of bowling facilities in Wisconsin have six or fewer bands.

Bowling center operators gain creativity through food, party rooms, birthday parties, volleyball leagues and offer more social bowling opportunities by charging hourly instead of playtime as the number of bowling in the leagues continues to decline. Wisconsin Dells is a 10-lane place at the Kalahari Resort, a bowling center for 24-lane tourists, and a restaurant and family playground, Knucklehead.

In Columbus, Cardinal Ale House has been closed since the beginning of 2015, but recently it was reopened as Fast Lanes. There are 12 lane bowls, a beer from Sprecher’s, a restaurant and retro arcade games. The leagues are scheduled to start this fall. And in the Milwaukee area, close to the Southridge Mall, Brookfield Square and Milwaukee Bucks new home, the Fiserv Forum, non-traditional bowling centers are focused on social bowling.

“I think the future of bowling is still very strong,” says Yvonne Tison Bennett, executive director of the Wisconsin Bowling Centers Association. “But we see the value of the real estate market increase, people will find an easy way to liquidate and earn money. We were always concerned about bowling longevity and the future, but we are adding so many new people and new money and new blood and energy spores. “

Schwoegler is a bowling institution that hosts the Madison USBC Bowling Association Honor Roll List, which will celebrate 100 years in 2019 and at the same time suffered a flood last month. The roots of family operation can now be traced back to the capital’s streets in Madison, a city that hosts the Bartell Theater. Its current location, 444 Grand Canyon Drive, opened in 1972.

In 1999, the company entered a $ 850,000 upgrade process that included new synthetic strips in 36 wooden strips. Having bowling centers in Stoughton, McFarland, Beaver Dam, West Bend and Eau Claire, Carter Smith bought Schwoegler in 2006, and in the last three years the facility has been extensively developed with the exception of strips. However, new synthetic lanes are on the way due to the flood waters that began to penetrate the back and front doors on August 27th.

The peak, the water, was found in the building about 4 meters long, but did not reach the pins adjusters. Several vehicles were damaged in the parking lot.

“You are numb,” Smith said, searching for the damage. “I learned a long time ago that if there is a problem in front of you and you can not do anything to change it, do not worry.”

Bowling pins coming out of the torrent to rest on the ribs and ribbons. The return of the ball was probably ruined and after the exposure to the flood waters in the basement, $ 15,000 to $ 20,000 of food and liquor had to be thrown.

While it is expected that the bar, restaurant and banquet hall will be reopened in early September, it is getting harder to change lanes, says Rob Bloxham, field supervisor at Schwoegler. The materials can be delivered in about three weeks, but only two companies, Brunswick and QubicaAMF, make installations and shorten staff. This is a delay for the bowling center to start bowling for 1,100 bowling ligatures.

“They bought the product, we are ready for it, but there are no assemblers to do it,” Bloxham said.

In the Black Earth Lanes, founded in 1946, Jonathan Abing was using a wet vacuum to get rid of the rubber boots and water in the basement of the moon. He and his wife, Lori, bought a bowling alley in August 2014, removed it and had a new, $ 13,000 exterior. Open buffet breakfast and tacos can be found on the menu. Meat refinements and diets are regular features. However, since the damage can exceed 100,000 dollars.

Jonathan Abing, 40, is not sure how to finance repairs or reopen doors.

“Everything we need to sustain business is here,” Abing said. “It will have to be on a daily basis now. Money is definitely a factor. “

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