6 ISSUE AT HAND
22 COVER STORY
P-L-I Spells FLOP!
Any Way You Read It, Lane7 Means Hip
By Scott Frager
That’s because Tim Wilks is.
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: scottfrager
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By Paul Lane CONTRIBUTORS Patty Heath Paul Lane Robert Sax
6 LETTERS Love, Hate, Miss
By Vern DeWees
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher firstname.lastname@example.org
34 FEATURE Lights! Camera! Bowling! As the Oscars roll around, a look at some of our favorite movies starring bowling.
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FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)
By Robert Sax
12655 Ventura Boulevard Studio City, CA 91604 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 email@example.com
• A peek at Fulton Alley • BPAA Service Awards • Poelking Marian Lanes is Brunswick’s Center of Excellence • Yvonne Bennett is new Wisconsin E.D. Compiled by Patty Heath
ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks
46 REMEMBER WHEN Sports Illustrated, 1961 By Patty Heath 22
Unique and Worldwide:
39 Classifieds 45 Datebook
ZOT Turns 50
HOTLINE: 888-424-2695 SUBSCRIPTION RATES: One copy of International Bowling Industry is sent free to every bowling center, independently owned pro shop and collegiate bowling center in the U.S., and every military bowling center and pro shop worldwide. Publisher reserves the right to provide free subscriptions to those individuals who meet publication qualifications. Additional subscriptions may be purchased for delivery in the U.S. for $50 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, 12655 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2014, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
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THE ISSUE AT HAND
P-L-I Spells FLOP! In recent months, a barrage of jabs was exchanged between the USBC leadership and proprietors regarding USBC’s Professional Lane Inspector Program. Indeed, it seems that no one was fond of what will probably be known forever as PLIP. Or should that be ‘FLOP’? Lets start with the USBC locals. PLIP was a major slap in the face to virtually every USBC state/local association that currently handles lane inspections. Not only was the USBC leadership by implication calling their locals unprofessional, they were attempting to take away a significant funding source for them. Granted, there are locals that do not do a great job at inspecting lanes. Overworked, understaffed, underpaid, poorly equipped and underappreciated, their inspectors (probably volunteers) don’t always provide the highest level of consistency and professionalism. Then come the proprietors. They usually have precious little love for inspectors. With
their livelihoods and center certification at stake, proprietors welcome inspectors in their centers just as much as the Iranian leadership welcomes U.S. nuclear weapons inspectors. What boggled my mind, and the minds of so many others, was that the PLIP lane test was announced and implemented without any industry buy-in. And the program was billed as a way to preserve the integrity of the sport while it charged more for inspection and reduced its frequency from yearly to every other year. The one thing USBC got right with PLIP is that there is a need for better lane inspection and certification processes. Despite all its drawbacks, I join the minority of center operators who hope that USBC finds a real and practical way to ensure lanes are within spec. Maybe, after new leadership is in place, there will be a lot more thought to the interests of proprietors and local associations before it is lobbed our way.
– SCOTT FRAGER, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org
4LETTER TO THE EDITOR In response to our column in February, Vern DeWees submitted his feelings about the bowling industry. LOVE
Too many hours!
Too many hours!
Too many hours!
That my wife lets me live out my dream in this industry
When it's extremely foggy and difficult to get to the bowling center
Many of the people, especially mentors, that have passed away (Tom Stahl from Stahl's Seventy's and Allen Crown)
When the establishment is closed and I am sitting alone enjoying the quietness, darkness and freshly brewed coffee Christmas Holiday season–everyone is in a festive mood Being trusted by all of my customers
Smelly restrooms Worrying about if it's safe to enter the establishment in the early hours of the morning Bowling on a pinsetter I am working on or plan to work on
The amount of greed in many of the vendors/ suppliers of parts and supplies
Helping a customer repair a pinsetter over the phone and hearing their gratification
Staying out of town and away from my bride (my best friend)
Hearing from a customer that when the establishment closed at 1 a.m. with a pinsetter down and re-opened at 7 a.m. with it working…it’s magic!
Health issues due to my job
Attrition in the industry Making the game easier
When a customer would call and say "I need the pinsetter now" St. Paul, St. Paul, St. Paul bowling centers When an average of 190 meant something and you needed to bowl 50 games a week to have one When the primary reason for lane conditioner was to protect the lane surface, not to embellish scores or show location of it (blue oil)
‘SMELLCOME TO MANHOOD’ Old Spice definitely thinks outside the box when it comes to commercials. Remember the underclad body builder? Dancing? Now, they have a series of “Mom Songs” that lean toward the bizarre, especially the one utilizing bowling as the theme. The hovering mother literally comes out of the ball return singing. While the other commercials in this set have the mothers lamenting the loss of their sons to manhood, this mother couldn’t be prouder. “Old Spice! Take a look what you’ve done! You made a sexy man right out of my son. Old Spice!” It’s a keeper!
DOs AND DON’Ts Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY, was the site for Teen Vogue’s AG Jeans Blogger Bowl. The purpose? To focus on teens in a social venue imparting advice to young readers. Teen fashionistas tried to bowl with varying degrees of success, but they were all very articulate in sharing social media tips. The bottom line? Have fun but think before you tweet.
SHIP YOUR FAVORITES The February issue of Inc. magazine sports a full page Federal Express ad showing the best way to package up your favorite activities. A soccer ball, a billiard ball, a set of three tennis balls and a bowling pin cuddle up in a Federal Express box. Bowling is always in the mix. 8
SHORT SHORTS Needed: Your Two Cents BPAA’s Diversity and Inclusion committee is looking for successful fundraising ideas. The committee would like to find out what your best programs are and what has worked for you. It doesn’t have to be complicated. What is most important is that no idea is too “out there.” Submit ideas to Kelly@bpaa.com.
Promotion Military center Shaw Lanes at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina has created Penny-a-Pin Bowling every Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. The idea is to pay what you bowl. If you bowl 110, then you pay $1.10.
Last Call for April Program BPAA’s Bowling University is holding its everpopular School for Bowling Center Management, April 6-11 at the IBC. Early-bird discounts are available for members. The program consists of a full week of intensive training. It is a “must” for current center managers and anyone interested in becoming a manager. To register, call 800-343-1329 ext. 8462 or email email@example.com.
Interesting Factoid We know the squatty pins known as duckpins. They are regionally found in New England mostly. They do have a French cousin known as quilles. These are the same except that quilles have a thick rubber band around the middle which creates more rebounding. The balls are smaller and without finger/thumb holes; only two balls per frame are allowed and the pins are not removed until the end of the frame, making it more difficult for each subsequent roll.
Punk Rock Bowling The Dwarves, Face to Face, Good Riddance or Peter & The Test Tube Babies? Ring a bell? Well, if not, they are just a few of the punk rock groups signed on for the 16th annual Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival to be held in Las Vegas, May 23-26. Check it out at www.punkrockbowling.com.
Midwest Collegiate Classic The inaugural Kegel/ISBPA Midwest Collegiate Classic was held Jan. 19-20 at the 84-lane Stardust Bowl in Addison, IL. One hundred and twenty-five teams (56 men’s varsity, 53 women’s varsity, and 16 JV) competed in the two-day tournament, one of the largest fields in USBC Collegiate Tier 1 this season.
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS Park Lanes in Mansfield, OH, is a landmark. The center was purchased in 2011 by Ron Speck, who has been working to bring the 50-lane center up to snuff. In the spring, he will introduce a new restaurant with an outdoor patio area, a banquet room and a pro shop. New scoring monitors will be installed soon. “We’ve been doing repairs to it, but we’ve been paying as we go so that Park Lanes is owned free and clear,” Speck said.
Parkview Lanes in Linton, IN, which closed in 2012, is now Parkview Family Entertainment Center and open! The new owners are Mike and Connie Farmer. Their son Bryan will be the operating manager. A few new additions are a game room and a juke box which is on order. The bar area will be remodeled and open by spring.
Brooklyn Bowl, which opened in 2009 and hosts not only bowling but live music and has become a mecca for Brooklyn hipsters, has announced two new branches for 2014. One is across the pond in London, and the other is across the country in Las Vegas. Co-owner Charley Ryan shared, “We are really excited about both of them.” The London branch is now open, with the Las Vegas site opening yet to be determined.
Country Lanes in Ishpeming, MI, is no longer. However, welcome to Red Rock Lanes, same site, different owners. Clay and Donna Sandberg have reopened the 16-lane center with some new offerings: a bar and grill, a full pro shop, a banquet and conference center that accommodates up to 300 guests, and an arcade and pool tables. The Sandbergs have also brought in live music, comedians, and hosted Second City improv over the holidays.
Jim Haja, owner of Haja Lanes in Palmerton, PA, for the past thirty years, has purchased a new center in Allentown. Playdrome Rose Bowl, a 36-lane facility, will now be Haja Rose Bowl. Haja has added seven new employees to the Allentown staff.
FULTON ALLEY REBORN Recently renovated, Fulton Alley, a 12-lane center in New Orleans, was awarded a Yahoo Travel “Best New Bars in USA” award. The center has QubicaAMF TMS String Pinspotters, SPL II Lanes and BES X Scoring. 10
At the Heart of Politics
India and the U.S. are squabbling. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the rift is due to a charge against Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat, of visa fraud for underpaying her babysitter and claiming in a visa application that the employee was being paid minimum wage--$9.75. In actuality, the babysitter’s recompense was approximately $3.31 per hour. The retaliation has been targeted toward American embassy staff and expatriates in New Delhi. A social club with a swimming pool and bowling center was closed to non-diplomats. The club, which had offered family memberships for $2,425 a year, will now struggle to stay open because it will only be serving a small number of diplomats. In addition, U.S. embassy cars will also face penalties for unauthorized parking and traffic violations. While the Soviet Union, Pakistan and security in South Asia are of higher import between the two countries, it is often the little things that can shift the balance. It is sort of like the straw that broke the camel’s back. “We continue to believe that we can maintain our strong historic relationship, and that’s what our focus is on,” said Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C.
BRUNSWICK SELECTS POELKING MARIAN LANES Each year, Brunswick recognizes a bowling-based entertainment center that illustrates an exemplary blend of cutting-edge planning and design, business-critical general management and operations, effective marketing and sales strategies, and superior customer service. The 2013 Brunswick Center of Excellence Award for Modernization went to Michael and Ellen Poelking, owners of Poelking Marian Lanes in Marian, OH. The Poelkings, who own four centers, know the importance of reimaging to satisfy customers. Michael said, “My father taught me as a young man that it’s vital to keep modern and reinvest in your business.” The 51-lane center exemplifies their motto, “Always Clean – Always Friendly – Always Fun.” The Poelkings: (left to right) Dennis, Ellen and Michael
IN REMEMBRANCE Bob Conor
Bernard (Bob) E. Conor, former president of AMF’s international bowling division and vice president of AMF’s international trade operations during the 1960s and into the early 1980s, passed away at the age of 91 in his home state of Michigan. A graduate of West Point, class of 1946, Conor was the driving force behind AMF’s international operations during the 1960s and 1970s, which included the 15-year joint venture for AMF Inc. with C.Itoh in Japan, resulting in a bowling boom in Japan that has yet to be equaled. In 1991, he published a book, Japan’s New Colony America: How We Americans Have Been Brainwashed and Compromised by Japan. Conor is survived by his wife, Mary-Lou.
Leonard H. LeFevre
The Greater Michigan Bowling Owners Association announced the passing of two Michigan proprietors. Leonard H. LeFevre passed in January. Besides the founder of the law firm LeFevre & LeFevre and founding member of the original First State Bank of Saginaw, he was owner of LeFevre’s Family Bowl. He is survived by his wife, Gerry, and three sons, four daughters, 35 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Another long-time Michigan proprietor, Hugh Greene, age 87, who was the owner and operator of Rollaway Lanes, Davison, MI, since 1953, passed away in November 2013. He is survived by his wife, Pat, four children and 13 grandchildren.
PEOPLEWATCHING With the retirement of Gary Hartel, the Bowling Centers Association of Wisconsin (BCAW) selected Yvonne Bennett as its new executive director, effective Feb. 17. Bennett brings 20 years experience in the not-for-profit sector. She has worked in bowling as a high-level scratch bowler, youth coach, Yvonne Bennett program coordinator, and, while working with the YABA and Bowling, Inc. Shared Services, she collaborated with the BPAA and its state organizations in support of several industry initiatives. Bennett earned her master’s degree in business administration and has received the Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. The BCAW feels Bennett is uniquely qualified to help it achieve its mission “to enhance the profitability of its members.” Bennett resides in Milwaukee with her husband, David, and, when not working, she enjoys the outdoors, travel and photography. Creative Works, Inc. has welcomed a new member to the sales team, Nancy Rockhill. Rockhill has over ten years of experience in the custom theme industry. She has worked with museums, sports arenas, restaurants and retail stores, collaborating with designers, architects and general contractors on Nancy Rockhill custom projects including facades, murals and props. Kimberly Schilling, VP of operations, shared, “I am confident that she will do well in providing great service to our current and future customers.”
USBC AWARDS ANNOUNCED Each year USBC recognizes outstanding bowling leaders through three national awards: the Helen Baker Award for Outstanding Association Service, the Joyce Deitch Unity Award, and the USBC Proprietor of the Year. The Helen Baker Award, recognizing an outstanding bowling leader who has made contributions to associations as an innovator, creator and mentor of adult programs, went to Nancy Walczyk, a 40-year veteran of bowling service. Walczyk started at the local level with the Erie County Suburban Women’s Bowling Association and in 1984 was hired by the New York State WBA. She also worked on the New York State Bowling Council. Bill Chrisman, owner of Storm Bowling, was the Joyce Deitch 12
Unity Award winner. This award highlights organizations and individuals who have made important contributions to bowling. Chrisman and his wife, Barbara, have supported bowling through innovative bowling products and sponsorships of bowlers and tournaments. He is a member of the Ogden Bowling Association and Utah State Halls of Fame. Randy Shank, proprietor of Sunnybrook Lanes in Sterling Heights, MI, since 1997, is this year’s USBC Proprietor of the Year. Sunnybrook Lanes has served as host to many local, regional and national tournaments. Shank was one of the first proprietors to launch youth and adult sport bowling leagues and is actively involved in bowling, sponsoring two teams.
INDUSTRY SERVICE AWARDS While the awards will not be formally presented until Bowl Expo in Orlando, FL this coming June, awards for industry service were announced in January during the BPAA Bowling Summit Industry Update and Town Hall Meeting at the Omni Hotel in San Diego. Michael Ducat, Winter Haven, FL, Michael Ducat received the 2014 Victor Lerner Memorial Medal along with an induction into the BPAA Hall of Fame. Ducat is owner of Ducat Investments LLC and co-owner of Pincurean Entertainment Group. He has been a member of the BPAA since 1988 and served as its president 2000-2002. He was also interim executive director 2001-2002. As pointed out in its press release, BPAA stated, “It was during those years [2000-2002 that] Ducat demonstrated strong leadership and integrity in helping change the face of BPAA and the way it conducted its business that is still present in the current business model.” b∑d
The President’s Medal, awarded to an individual judged to have given exceptional support and/or made significant contributions in the eyes of the current BPAA president and Awards Committee, went to Kevin Krauss of Seminole, FL. He is recognized for his efforts as chair of the BPAA nominating committee, Kevin Krauss restructuring its procedures and maintaining highest integrity in its interviews of candidates. b∑d
Gary Forman of Fountain Valley, CA, received the V.A. Wapensky Award for a major contribution to the advancement of the bowling industry. Forman is recognized for his efforts to advance bowling on a local, regional and state level through programs in his own center and for assisting other proprietors to succeed in theirs. He Gary Forman has the distinction of being nominated for the award by both the Bowling Centers of Southern California as well as the Northern California Bowling Centers associations. 16
The Ruben A. Dankoff Award for Public Policy and Legislative Service went to David Bardon of Elkhart Lake, WI. Bardon is honored for his dedication in setting up seminars at state summits, organizing presentations on issues important to BPAA members, and developing a database of people in states with connections to state lobbyists. His priority has been to educate states and local associations on legislative issues and develop David Bardon how-to guides. b∑d
Pro bowler Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, a perennial fan favorite, was awarded the Dick Weber Bowling Ambassador Award for her actions in elevating the positive image of bowling and promoting the game and sport to all ages both on and off the lanes. Most recently, she has been involved with the International Family Tournament where she gives her time and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard expertise to coach, entertain and encourage youth bowlers and their families. Through her “Ballard vs. the Big C: Striking Back to Spare Lives” annual charity event, she has raised thousands of dollars in the fight against cancer. b∑d
Not to be overlooked, Natalie Savant of San Antonio, TX, received the Special Projects Award for her campaign to bowl in all 48 contiguous states to garner local, regional and national attention for bowling. She is a charming young ambassador to be sure. Also, the Chicago Sun Times was selected for the BPAA Media Award for its longtime outstanding support of local bowling and especially for over a half-century of coverage of the Chicagoland BPA “Beat the Champions” tournament. The Lerner Medal will be presented at Expo’s General Session on June 25. Other honors will be handed out at a special luncheon June 23 at the Expo host hotel, the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.
of Bowltech UK, Nick Keppe, currently managing director . ZOT of t with Roger Lindblad, presiden
n the early ’60s when bowling proprietors were looking for ways to speed up play, especially in league matches, a leading Colorado manufacturer of canning equipment had an idea. Or rather, two ideas. One was a ball booster, the other a conversion assembly for Brunswick As, both designed to get the ball back to the bowler faster. The canner, Precision Metal Fabricators, brought the booster to market in 1964, the conversion a year later. Together they saved about 20 minutes for a 5-person team. They also launched a bowling division of the manufacturer and a new brand of bowling equipment, both with the same name, ZOT. Fast-forward 20 years. It’s 1984. Roger Lindblad, a ZOT Sales and Service employee for 17 years, buys ZOT and sets to work expanding the product line and building a nationwide network of distributors. Lindblad is determined to keep ZOT’s focus on unique, problem-solving items. “It’s not difficult to build a line of ‘me too’ products,” says Lindblad today, still heading ZOT as the company celebrates its first half-century, “but they don’t solve problems or generate revenues for proprietors through savings or making bowling more appealing to customers. ZOT’s line achieves both with products that are popular with mechanics and proprietors alike.” More than 200 products in the catalog run a very wide gamut for AMF- and Brunswick-equipped centers, from foul 20
Akira Nakano, president of Eastern Sports Japan with Roger Lindblad, president of ZOT .
detectors with self-diagnostics, electronic triggering, and pinsetter control systems, to ball conditioners and re-engineered metal parts and assemblies. A recent addition, the ColorSplash LED Pindeck Light fixture, adds effects such as an array of ambient colored lighting, and is switchable to standard white light for league play at the touch of a button. In 1993, Lindblad added Paul Lane to the ZOT team. With 30 years marketing experience in 60+ overseas markets, the retired director of marketing and marketing services for AMF was “the ideal person” to expand ZOT internationally, Lindblad felt. Lane was quickly in touch with Nick Keppe, managing director of Complete Leisure, headquartered in England, who became ZOT’s first international distributor. Scant months later, Lane had added Bowltech (Netherlands), AMF (Australia), and Eastern Sports (formerly Asahi Capital, Japan) to the roster, and he and Lindblad were winging overseas to train sales staff and conduct product seminars for mechanics in all four countries. Today ZOT’s network is global. As Lindblad blows out the candles and the company starts its second 50 years, his attention is directed near and far. It is as wide as the bowling world and, unchanged after his 30 years of ZOT ownership, as minute as the smallest detail of equipment that can be re-thought, optimized and made more profitable. ❖
Photos by Rebecca (Bec) Hues, The House of Hues, Whitburn
By Paul Lane
hen Tim Wilks determined to build Lane7, a boutique bowling facility in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England, he did his homework. He researched boutique centers in the U.S. and Europe and looked for the ideal location and building to house ideas drawn from what he observed during his research (often observing what not to do) and his own unique imaginative thinking and ideas. As he says on his website, www.Lane7.co.uk: â€œForget everything you thought you knew about bowling alleys, because Lane7 is different. Really
different. Forget formica tables, moulded seats and plastic hot-dogs. Imagine the best bar you’ve ever been to and then add a first class dining experience, ten-pin bowling, pingpong, pool, Karaoke and an unrivalled atmosphere into the mix. We’re perfect for nights out with mates, for parties and even for corporate events. All in all, it’s a pretty cool concept, and you’re going to love it.” The first challenge for Tim following his research was to find the ideal building in the perfect location: a building that would house his ideas and at the same time fit the profile of the local market and community. As Tim pointed out, if he lifted up his facility and put it down in another location, another town, it almost certainly would not work as well. A boutique bowling facility has to be unique: unique for the location and unique to the local environment and lifestyle of the local community. Newcastle is well known to be a party town and is also a town that hosts and stages numerous annual festivals including Chinese New Year in February, when the city’s Chinatown is at the center of a colorful and vibrant celebration. This is followed in March with a comedy festival, a spring Bank Holiday with performances from the world of rock and dance music, and in mid-June, a twoweek-long festival of food and drink. Newcastle is also well known internationally (by aficionados of English brews) for its Newcastle Brown Ale and by TV fans of Rowan Atkinson (more familiar as Mr. Bean). And we would be remiss not to mention their football (soccer) team, Newcastle United, a fierce and respected competitor in the English Premier League. At long last Tim found his building but it was not what one might expect: a two-story open space that had been a Kwikfit Tire and Exhaust Car Service and Testing facility. A solid brick construction, built in 1959, with exposed brick inside as well as outside, a concrete floor, exposed iron girders, and pulleys and chains (used, we assume, for 26
servicing automobile engines, etc.). Tim’s imagination and ideas ran wild once he saw this building. He instinctively knew, “This is the one,” and he quickly started sketching out floor plans to maximize on what he saw as the potential for a unique boutique bowling facility. And when we say ‘sketching,’ we mean literally. Tim told us he had always been good at art and numbers, especially measurements. After acquiring the building he set about conceptualizing and designing virtually every aspect of
the entire facility, eventually handing over detailed finished drawings to an architect whose only real function from there was to generate the working CAD drawings from Tim’s renderings. What Tim did was maximize on the natural elements of the building, retaining all the exposed brick, turning the iron work, pulleys and chains, etc. into features, and adding a high-gloss polish to the concrete floors for what can be described as a rough-and-ready look which Tim describes as “industrial cool” ⎯and it worked.
Nick Keppe, the president of Bowltech UK, who provided and installed the equipment at Lane7, had this to say: “This was a strangely unique concept by Tim, combining four lanes of TMS Ten Pin Pinspotter string machines from QubicaAMF with overlane ball returns on the upper floor, and four more with conventional subway returns on the ground floor. “It was great working with someone who had clearly researched current bowling trends, both in the USA as well as Europe, and therefore made the right, well-informed design and product choices. Boutique bowling by its very nature has to be different, and Tim has certainly achieved that with his Lane7 concept.” In addition to the eight lanes (four on each floor), Lane7 features a 75-seat-capacity full-service restaurant (with extensive lunch and dinner menus and a comprehensive wine list), a full bar on both floors, four full-size American pool tables, two pingpong tables, and a private karaoke room⎯all of which are available for private hire⎯along with meeting space suitable for small corporate conferences. The facility can accommodate up to 220 people on each floor for a total of 440, but the comfort level is probably more like 300. With Newcastle being a party-loving town, party bookings are a primary source of business at Lane7 and, since party bookings can vary so much in size, and many request private space, it was essential that each space of the center’s amenities could be enclosed or opened up to create space to accommodate almost any size group, no matter how small or large. For example, the pool table area can be divided (with pull-down shutters with a built-in door) into two or more rooms with one, two, three or four tables. Tim recognized from the outset that having the flexibility 28
to adjust the space for private party activities was essential and designed all of the amenities throughout the facility with that concept in mind. On the subject of bookings, either private or corporate, there is a detailed booking enquiry form on the Lane7 website asking for name, email, phone, date and time and number of people, and what you would like to do during your visit (e.g., eat, bowl, ping-pong, pool, karaoke). The email requests are followed up with a phone call to confirm the reservation and find out more about the party and the reason for the booking. “We do things the old-fashioned way,” said Tim. “We do not just accept a booking by email or phone. We have a full-time person whose time is dedicated to answering the phone and making follow-up calls for booking requests received by email. We like to talk to the customers and find out things like, is this a corporate function and the purpose, or a birthday or anniversary celebration, and make suggestions of activities and services that may make their visit more enjoyable, e.g., a birthday cake, or special menu, or special music requests for a karaoke booking, and so on. “We also have another employee who takes care of the phones on a part-time basis⎯soon to be made full-time⎯to keep up with the demand. We don’t want the person handling the phone calls to be distracted like a counter person on a reception desk would be. We want the customer to know that the person they talk to [has] their undivided attention and [is] there to assist them and them only. “And we are close to hiring a full-time person just to follow up and/or make proactive sales calls to local corporations and businesses. A recreation sales manager of sorts, who will also be
COVER STORY single-focused in his or her goals and objectives.” It’s interesting to note that during peak times (Thursday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to close) all lanes are reserved exclusively for those dining in the restaurant. This rule also applies for the entire month of December, a peak time for corporate and private party functions. Bowling fees vary, from circa (US) $12 a game during peak times, to $10 off-peak, and $7.50 for kids. Pool tables rent for $20 an hour during peak times and $13 an hour during off-peak times, and similarly for ping-pong tables. And finally, karaoke costs $11.50 an hour per person for parties of up to 15. And let’s not forget the restaurant with its sumptuous menu of snacks, nibbles and starters from around $7.50, main courses between $16 and $35, “Things on Bread” at $14-16, and a selection of sides at $10 each, not forgetting desserts at $8. And of course a fine selection of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines. When you consider that most customers, especially those with a party, include dinner, beverages, bowling and at least one other activity during their visit, you can see that the average revenue per customer is substantial, to say the least. But given the quality of the service, the food and beverage, the variety of recreational choices on offer, plus the quality
of the furniture, fixtures and fittings, and the facility’s warm and inviting ambience, Lane7 has a perceived value that very few entertainment venues can compare to or compete with. It’s good value for money no matter how you look at it. This writer interviewed Tim Wilks at 8 p.m. (UK time) on a Wednesday evening and at close to 9 p.m. he announced happily, “Sorry, I have to go now. We have a new party of 270 people due to arrive shortly and I need to make a last-minute check to see if everything is in place.” Be assured that if Tim Wilks ever decides to venture outside of Newcastle to open another boutique center in another town, it won’t be anything like Lane7. But you can guarantee that it will be unique, will be first-class in every respect, and it will be
uniquely tailored to be a perfect fit for the local market. Tim’s magic formula for success stems from not having a formula. ❖ We thank Kevin Robson, Wonder Stuff Studios, Gosforth, for assistance with this story.
Paul Lane is former Director of Marketing and Marketing Services for AMF Bowling, Inc. He has been the director of 18 AMF World Cups, an officer in national and international trade associations, and a pro bowler during a career that spans more than 60 countries and 50 years.
SHOWCASE REPLACEMENT CHAIRS
Replace your existing chairs and keep your existing bases. Venue Furniture can help you update the look of your center for a surprisingly low price. With a complete line of highquality bowling furniture, a design package can be created specifically for your center. A full catalog can be downloaded at BowlingFurniture.com. Call 855-55VENUE or email sales@VenueFurniture.us.
NEW ERA IN LIGHTING
American DJ has introduced three new models to its Dotz Series, cutting-edge wash lighting with supercharged Chip On Board (COB) LEDs. The result of COB is a brighter, more brilliant wash of light for added impact on a dance floor or stage or anywhere. Also, the three models have a very low power draw. For more info or to order, contact distributor NLFX Pro @ NLFXPro.com or 888-660-6696.
Switch® has teamed up with Sacoa Playcard® to offer an integrated solution for FECs and bowling centers. Through this product integration, Switch Bowling terminals can now accept credits stored on a customer’s playcard as payment, as well as check cardbalances in real time, add credits to the customer’s card, and accept cash or other forms of payment. It is a rechargeable method of payment for arcade games, attractions, bowling, food and beverage, and retail merchandise. For more info, go to www.switchbowling.com or visit www.sacoacard.com.
QUBICAAMF WEBINAR SERIES
QubicaAMF offers free, live webinars throughout the year covering a variety of products. It is a great opportunity to learn more about new products, hear best practices and get tips to improve your center. Participants are given a chance to ask questions and connect with experts. Looking ahead, April, May and June are full of topics of interest. Go to qubicaamf.com, type in “webinar” and review all the offerings.
Creative Works presents another winner with a 2,900+ square-foot custom, blacklight, mini golf course. “The Backlot 9” takes players on a set with all the exciting twists and turns of a Hollywood backstage. With an instruction series to ensure all runs smoothly, employees are not only trained on operations but also coached on first customer interactions, guest service, parties and more. Visit www.THEWOWEFFECT.com or call 877-843-6348.
FLEX GENERATION TOUR
Kegel’s FLEX Generation Tour, a 22-stop, hands-on seminar, began in February and will run through April. It will cover “must know” lane maintenance topics, discuss the newest products from Kegel, and, in addition, will raffle off a new $31,000 FLEX Lane Machine to one lucky attendee. The schedule includes stops in Canada, the East Coast, West Coast and U.S. cities in-between. Contact Kegel for locations and host distributors @ www.kegel.net.
US Bowling’s Speed Sofa is designed to put swank in your lanes. The sleek, low-profile design, made with the most durable materials on the market, allows for brutal abuse. An extensive selection of colors, matched with a wide variety of chairs and tables, will create the ideal layout. For info, go to www.usbowling.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
VECTOR PLUS IN FULL HD
Brunswick’s Vector Plus scoring now displays videos, games and scoring on your big-screen monitors in stunning HD resolution. The entire Vector scoring library is now rendered in 1080p HD including every score sheet design and video exciter. No matter what customers are watching, it’s sure to blow them away…and help to keep them coming back. For more info, contact your Brunswick sales rep or go to www.brunswickbowling.com/products/vector-plus/vector-hd.
FEATURE dance numbers have taken place on the lanes in the movies. Bowling also provides an element of anticipation that can pull viewers into a scene. The release of the ball down the lane is a gripping moment. Will the hero roll the strike he needs to win a tournament and redeem his life? Will he fail to impress the girl he loves by throwing a gutter ball? The bowling alley is also a self-contained world with rules, rituals, sights and sounds that are different from the world outside. It’s a place where minor characters can become major ones, and a social setting in which people from various walks of life can meet. Like pool halls and casinos, bowling alleys have also been a home for dreamers, schemers, crooks and others on the wilder side of life.
Bowling with the Stars
A number of famous films, with famous actors, have scenes set in bowling alleys, including some Academy Award-winners. Here are just a few of them:
By Robert Sax
owling and movies are two staples of American culture. More than 70 million Americans bowled at least once in 2013. More than 200 million Americans saw a movie in a theater in 2012. It’s no surprise then that bowling has been featured on-screen in many movies. The 86th Academy Awards will be held this month, so we thought it would be a good time to take a quick survey of bowling as it has appeared on the silver screen. We have even included a list of top bowling movies, so you can program your own mini-festival. The first appearance of bowling in the movies may be the 1921 silent film Rip van Winkle, based on the classic story by Washington Irving. While hunting, Rip meets a group of strange “ghostmen” who are drinking and playing bowls in the forest. After drinking with them, Rip falls into his famous twenty-year sleep. Since Rip van Winkle, bowling has appeared often in the movies. There are several reasons why filmmakers find bowling so interesting. The first is that it’s a setting full of visual interest. Movies thrive on eye-catching action, and with other bowlers in the background and principal performers bowling and speaking in the foreground, scenes set in bowling alleys have plenty of action. The bowling center is wide and deep, offering a “stage” with lots of room for ancillary action. Fights, murders, vampire attacks, love scenes and big
Howard Hawks’ classic gangster picture was based on the life of Al Capone. Ambitious young mobster Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) kills anyone who gets in his way, including shooting rival Gaffney (Boris Karloff) in a bowling alley as he records a strike. The marking of the ‘X’ on the score sheet is itself tied to the visual iconography of the film, as Tony bears an ‘x’-shaped scar on his face. While there’s no bowling in the popular 1983 remake with Al Pacino, he has a great scene in a bowling alley with his Scarface co-star Michelle Pfeiffer in another film, Frankie and Johnny (1991).
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
The classic film version of the Tennessee Williams play won several Academy Awards. When Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) first sees her sister’s husband, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), he’s roughhousing with other men in a noisy, hot and humid bowling alley in New Orleans. It’s the perfect place to meet Stanley, one of the great blue-collar characters in American movies, and offers a sharp contrast to Blanche’s seemingly proper Southern belle. As Blanche’s sister, Stella, notes, the lanes are a man’s world; the women only come to watch them bowl.
FEATURE Five Easy Pieces (1970)
This film won many prestigious awards (though no Oscars) and helped now-legendary actor Jack Nicholson move from B-pictures to the Hollywood elite. Nicholson does a star turn as anti-hero Bobby Dupea, who has fled his upper-class family and a promising career as a classical pianist to work on oil rigs. We first get a sense of his prickly character in a bowling alley where he’s drinking and bowling with his girlfriend, Rayette, his best buddy, Elton, and Elton’s wife. Bobby belittles Rayette when she bowls poorly, then pushes her to go home with the others. He stays behind and chats up two loose women, whom we later see partying with Bobby and Elton in a motel room.
Ordinary People (1980)
Robert Redford’s directorial debut won Oscars for best picture, director, adapted screenplay and supporting actor (Timothy Hutton). Hutton plays Conrad, a troubled young man who attempts suicide after surviving a boating accident in which his brother died. As he tries to get his life back together, he has a date with Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern.) They go bowling, and later Conrad confesses he likes bowling alleys because you “Can't break the ball, can’t break the floor, can’t break anything in a bowling alley.”
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Michael Cimino’s Viet Nam war saga was one of the best-known films of the 1970s. It won multiple Oscars including best picture, director, and supporting actor (Christopher Walken). Midway through the film, soldier and former prisoner-of-war Michael (Robert DeNiro) returns to his small Pennsylvania steel town. He goes to the local bowling alley where he’s reunited with friends and watches Linda (Meryl Streep), the girlfriend of his buddy Nick who didn’t return from the war. The bowling alley, with its bar and good times, represents the simple life and community where Michael, after the horrors of war, no longer fits in.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
British actor Daniel Day Lewis won the second of his three Academy Awards for best actor as Daniel Plainview, a rapacious oil prospector in early 20th century California. Daniel will say or do anything to get what he wants, and alienates himself from his family and community. By the end of the film he is an alcoholic and losing his mind. In the final scene (spoiler alert!) he flies into a rage at his nemesis, pastor Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), in the ornate bowling alley in his mansion. Daniel chases Eli around the lanes, throwing balls at him, then beats him to death with a bowling pin. It’s the final act of Daniel’s long descent into evil. The scene features the film’s best-known line, “I drink your milkshake, I drink it up!”
The Top Bowling Movies
While there are many movies with bowling scenes or characters who bowl, there are only a few that are
rooted almost entirely in the world of bowling. These films are the cinematic equivalent of a perfect game, and it’s impossible to imagine them existing without bowling.
The drama of the bunch, this 1979 feature features Tim Matheson (Animal House) as Dreamer, a tenpin whiz in his small town who wants to make it in the big-time on the professional tour. Ultimately, he does, with the help of irascible manager Harry (Jack Warden) and faithful girlfriend Karen (Susan Blakely). Dreamer is from the mold of underdog sports films best represented by Rocky. In fact, Dreamer and Rocky feature scores by the same composer, Bill Conti. It appears that Dreamer was only released for home video on VHS, not DVD, but it may become available in streaming format. If you can find it, this cult film offers a great look back at the bowling world of the 1970s, including competition footage of top pros of the time Dick Weber and Nelson Burton Jr. As a bonus, sportscasting legend Chris Schenkel, longtime voice of the PBA Tour on ABC television, plays himself. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review that Dreamer “exists in a kind of touching innocence. It employs so many clichés so earnestly that you'd never guess Hollywood has made dozens, if not hundreds, of sports movies based on the same old stuff.”
This broad comedy skewers the clichéd sports movie while at the same time showing a wacky affection for bowling. Directed by the Farrelly brothers, Kingpin revels in the same gross and outrageous humor as their film Something About Mary and if you can stomach the rougher moments, you’ll get a lot of laughs out of this one. Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) is a talented up-andcoming bowler who has his career literally cut short when unscrupulous pro Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray) leads him into a hustle that goes awry. Ernie leaves Roy holding the bag and the bad guys take revenge by mutilating Roy’s bowling hand in a ball return. Years later, Roy is an alcoholic salesman with a rubber prosthetic hand, still haunted by the career that got away. Then he discovers unlikely bowling prodigy Ishmael (Randy Quaid), an Amish farmer. Roy manages to get Ishmael away from the farm, coaches him to be a better bowler, and takes him to Reno for the PBA championship. When Ishmael suddenly disappears, Roy finds himself again battling nemesis McCracken in the championship final at the National Bowling Stadium. Bill Murray’s performance
FEATURE in the final bowling sequence is a comedic masterpiece. Although Roy loses the match, he still triumphs in the end. (Trivia time: Chris Schenkel again appears as himself.)
Pin Gods (1996)
This little-known but well-regarded documentary feature might be considered the real-life version of Dreamer. In 1993, Walter Ray Williams Jr. was tearing up the PBA tour, winning an unprecedented seven tournaments in one year and inspiring many young bowlers to pursue their dreams. Award-winning documentary director Larry Locke follows three such dreamers on the tour as they discover just how tough it can be to make it in professional bowling. It’s a gritty, unsentimental view of the tour, much of it captured away from the limelight. While Williams continues his winning ways, the other three are often watching from the sidelines, having missed the cut or lost in the early stages of the tournament. Who quits and who makes it as a pro may surprise you, but it will certainly teach you something about following a dream. Pin Gods debuted at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in 1996 and had a limited art house theatrical run in 1997 and a re-release in 2010. It may be hard to find on DVD, but you can stream it for free at www.larrylocke.com courtesy of the director.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
This comedy by the Academy-award-winning Coen brothers (Fargo and No Country for Old Men) is truly a cult film, with legions of fans who spout favorite lines of dialogue and dress up as favorite characters at annual film festivals-cumbowling parties dubbed “Lebowskifests.” Jeff Bridges stars as the Dude, aka Jeffrey Lebowski, a burned-out Los Angeles slacker who lives to bowl with his friends, smoke pot and drink White Russians. His best friend is Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), a Viet Nam veteran with a short fuse who threatens a teammate with a .45 pistol when he commits a foul. A convert to Judaism, Walter refuses to break the Sabbath by “rolling on Shabbes.” When some thugs mistake the Dude for a millionaire who is also named Jeffrey Lebowski, he is drawn into a complicated and noir-ish kidnapping plot that’s worthy of Raymond Chandler. Among the many treats here is a musical bowling fantasy that mashes up Busby Berkeley chorines, grand opera and bowling balls. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly ranked The Big Lebowski eighth on its “Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years” list. The film also placed 34th on the magazine’s 2003 list, “The Top 50 Cult Films.” If you watch one bowling movie in your life, make it this one. (Trivia time: The Dude is never seen rolling a ball.)
A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (2006)
This fascinating documentary film was released on DVD after it appeared on PBS’ Independent Lens series. It stars PBA Tour players Pete Weber, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Chris Barnes, and Wayne Webb. The documentary starts after the PBA is purchased by a trio of former Microsoft executives who hire Steve Miller, a sports marketing guru, to reinvent and revitalize the tour. Their goal is to turn the tour into a moneymaker and get it back on television. The film chronicles the history of professional bowling in America from its glory days in the 1950s and 1960s to its near extinction in the late
MORE MOVIES WITH BOWLING SCENES OR THEMES While bowling and movies are great family activities, some of the films mentioned in this story are decidedly for adults only. Check ratings before screening them, or any of the following, for children.
Cape Fear (1962) The Contender The Flintstones Fright Night 2 Grease 2 Greedy Ice Castles King Ralph Lars and the Real Girl Men in Black III Mr. Wonderful Mystery Men Racing with the Moon She’s Out of My League Spare Me Uncle Buck The Wanderers 1990s. Miller gets the tour back onto television via ESPN, which may be a blessing or a curse for bowlers and bowling fans. As the four pros struggle to adapt to change, we are treated to a revealing behind-the-scenes look at professional bowlers and the modern business of sports. Next time you’re planning a movie night, give it a different spin with a bowling movie. You’ll find additional choices in the sidebar to this story, and with a little online research you are sure to find more. And as long as there are popcorn and Raisinets, there will be many new bowling scenes and movies to come. ❖
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
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n 1961, bowling was coming to the apex of its popularity, and Sports Illustrated was burgeoning into the sports magazine. SI had been around since 1954 but in other less successful forms. However, in the 1960s, it began to incorporate full-color photographic coverage of sports events. In the May 29, 1961 issue, ABC’s 58th annual tournament, held in Detroit at Cobo Hall, complete with 30,000 bowlers/6,216 teams from 47 states, was the focus of photographer Pete Turner. Through Turner’s photographs, we catch the essence of the event rather than following the action. The photographs become visions rather than records. A little more artsy than down-and-real. But that was the point. Bowling had transcended from 17th century Dutch keglers to a sport of sports. ❖