From serious league bowlers to birthday party guests and competitive high school athletes to friends out on a Friday night, bowling centers strive to meet the needs of many audiences.
“We try to be provide something for everyone,” Beaver-Vu Bowl proprietor Doug Wilson said. “And if we’re successful, we’ll keep them coming back.”
According to the United States Bowling Congress, bowling is the No. 1 participation sport in the country. There were 2.1 million USBC members participating in more than 71,000 certified leagues during the 2010-11 season and more than 71 million people bowl at least once every year.
So, even if you don’t know the difference between a turkey and an open frame you can still lace up a pair of bowling shoes and hit the lanes.
“We are one of the rare recreational or sporting activities that you can do with mom and dad, grandma and grandpa and all have fun,” Poelking Lanes South proprietor Joe Poelking said.
From parent-child leagues to senior specials, area bowling centers offer a variety of opportunities for young and old to get out and bowl. Many bowling centers are offering the Bowlopolis 8-For-8 youth league this fall where kids bowl for eight weeks, at $8 a week, and get their own bowling ball at the end of the league.
“Kids are the future of our business,” Wilson said. “And we are seeing more and more participation in varsity bowling which is also raising awareness of the sport.”
More than 330 Ohio high schools have varsity bowling teams and that number has grown each year since the Ohio High School Athletic Association added bowling as a sanctioned sport.
If traditional league bowling is too much of a commitment, there are still plenty of opportunities for less structured time on the lanes. All centers offer open bowling times and most bowling centers also have weekend events like Cosmic Bowling or Glowbowl – complete with glow-in-the-dark balls, black lights and dance music pulsing through the center.
Short season leagues run anywhere from 8-16 weeks and might include food and beverages. Poelking South’s Pins ‘n Grapes and Brew Crew leagues are short season leagues that offer weekly wine and beer tasting, respectively.
“There are a variety of leagues in the area designed around a fun activity,” Poelking said. “It’s just a matter of seeing what fits your schedule.”
Keeping up with the times
Having the latest and greatest can come with a hefty price tag but local centers are willing to make that investment.
“We look at it as reinvesting in the future of the game,” Wilson said.
Century Lanes as well as Poelking South and Poelking Marian lanes are all in the process of installing new synthetic lanes. Beaver-Vu has installed family friendly bumpers while Capri Lanes patrons will soon see a completely remodeled restaurant and lounge.
“We’re always trying to attract new customers,” Poelking said. “It’s a matter of determining what we need to do to provide what the bowlers want.”
Poelking suggests dropping by your local center to see what they have to offer. Most centers also have additional information available on their websites or on Facebook.
What’s New on the Lanes?
* Beaver-Vu Bowl, 1238 North Fairfield Road, Beavercreek, 426-6771
Beaver-Vu Bowl now has 64 lanes of family-friendly bumpers so the whole family can bowl on the same lane with automatic bumpers engaging for young bowlers. There is also a new state-of-the-art sound system for Beaver-Vu Lights on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
*Bowl 10 Fairborn, 1425 N. Broad St., Fairborn, 878-9521
The newly remodeled center is sporting new furniture in the lounge and snack bar areas. There is also a new birthday party area and a new arcade will soon be unveiled.
* Capri Lanes, 2727 South Dixie Dr., Kettering, 298-7411
The Kettering bowling center is completely renovating and expanding its restaurant and lounge areas. Daily lunch specials can be received by email.
* Century Lanes, 3301 South Dayton-Lakeview Road, New Carlisle, 849-4220
Century Lanes is installing Brunswick Pro Anvil synthetic lanes and Frameworx ball returns. They have added a new air conditioning system for the lower end of the house. They run Karaoke once a month starting in September and have daily bowling specials.
* Pla-Mor Lanes, 4901 Linden Ave., Dayton, 253-3111
Additional bumpers have been installed so all 24 lanes now have bumpers. They have doubled the size of the pro shop allowing for additional items and displays to meet the bowlers’ needs.
* Poelking Marian Lanes, 6170 Brandt Pike, Huber Heights, 233-2222
The entire center will be renovated over the next year starting with the installation of Brunswick Pro lanes and new carpet. The final phase will include renovation of the kitchen, bar and entryway.
* Poelking Lanes South, 8871 Kingsridge Drive, Centerville, 435-3855
Brunswick Pro Synthetic Lanes are currently being installed and new black lighting will be installed, as they will soon introduce new GlowBall bowling. A new fenced outdoor patio can be used for gatherings and social outings. New leagues include Pins ‘n Grapes, Brew Crew and Rita Wednesdays. Specials are available for groups and families and include two hours of bowling, shoe rental and soft drinks.
* Poelking Woodman Lanes, 3200 Woodman Drive, Kettering, 293-3179
New lights have been installed for “Glow in the Dark Cosmic” bowl every Friday and Saturday night. The Ohio State “Spare Time Sports Bar” has music, corn hole, video games, darts and pool tables while the rock-and-roll style coffee shop offers homemade pizzas. The center has two new rooms available for meetings or parties and new ramps available for bowlers with disabilities.
* Thunderbowl Lanes, 805 S. Main St., Englewood, 836-5177
Open 365 days a year until 2:30 a.m., Thunderbowl has Rock n Bowl year round on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights starting at 9 p.m. They are featuring a newly remodeled party room for birthdays or other special events.
* Victory Lanes, 1906 Commerce Road, Springfield, 323-8684
Thunder Alley runs on Friday and Saturday nights. The center has 36 flat screen TVs that can be used for scoring or to catch a football game.
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