Cyber Report #1112

E-dition No. 1,112 • Friday, June 5, 2020
Editor: Bob Johnson (bjibob@aol.com)

PWBA Cancels 2020 Tour; Special Events Possible

The Professional Women’s Bowling Association has cancelled its 2020 Tour season, including its two major events, the USBC Queens and the U.S. Women’s Open.

Leadership of the BPAA and USBC determined workability concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and varying nationwide restrictions would not allow the PWBA to conduct full-field events.

Several operational factors were considered, most importantly the feasibility of providing standardized health and safety protocols for athletes and staff while traveling around the country during a time with constantly changing conditions.

The PWBA made the decision now so that athletes, host centers and ball manufacturers no longer would be in a “holding pattern” and can plan accordingly.

This was a tough call,” PWBA player Liz Kuhlkin wrote in a Facebook post. “It was inevitable, but the words still stung to hear for all of us. I 100% respect the very tough decision the PWBA and USBC made… It’s hard to fathom a whole summer without professional bowling, my first in five years, but it’s necessary so that we can ride out this pandemic that has turned our world upside down. I miss all my friends and supporters I see on tour. Already looking forward to 2021.”

The likelihood of having to limit fan attendance played a role in the decision. The potential restricted capacity of centers, mandated by state guidelines, meant the PWBA could not provide host centers with their primary customer engagement tool: the Bowl with the Pros events.

Capacity limits also would affect the ability of the PWBA to conduct events. For the 2019 season, the Tour averaged 78 competitors for its first three events, while the USBC Queens drew a field of 192 competitors.

I’m bummed and could be really upset, but I have decided to pray and praise God through it and look at the positives,” said Shannon O’Keefe, who has emerged as a superstar since the tour resumed operations. “The PWBA had to make a very difficult decision, one I know they didn’t take lightly and was just as heartbreaking for them as for us. (Tour Director) Tennelle Milligan was a full touring player back in 2003 when the tour folded. My heart hurts for her as I’m sure this brought back some painful memories.”

While the season has been cancelled, there may be some form of competition later in the year.

We’ll continue to explore the possibility of conducting PWBA events in 2020 for the players, the fans and the industry,” BPAA Executive Director Frank DeSocio said. “If conditions improve to allow special events to be an option for the PWBA, we want to find a way to make that happen.”

The 2020 season was originally scheduled to start on April 23, but the PWBA announced the indefinite postponement of the season on March 16.

Mike Divis: Roaming Wyoming for Bowling

I just do what I think is good for bowling, and that’s usually good for business,” says Mike Divis, owner of Camelanes in Gillette, Wyo., who has been selected as the 2020 Proprietor of the Year by the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America.

Camelanes has been a home away from home for Divis since he was 6 years old. His mother, Audrey, bowled in three leagues per week there, and his father, Tom, bowled in two. Running a bowling center had always been a dream for Tom and Audrey, and in 1991 they teamed with their son to acquire Camelanes. Mike’s father passed away in 2000, but his mother remained active in the business until retiring four years ago, and still bowls in two leagues per week.

But it always was Mike who quarterbacked the business, and early on he began participating in local bowling association and state proprietor association activities. He said it became “obvious” how important it is to “have things for kids to do. It’s huge.” Over time, he became involved in promoting youth bowling in many ways.

At Camelanes, which has the largest youth program in Wyoming, Divis helps coach on Saturday mornings and provides bowlers with equipment advice and adjustments. Local students who earn “A” or equivalent grades on their school report cards receive free games of bowling. The center sponsors “Senior Sendoff,” an alcohol-free gathering for local high school seniors after graduation. Special Olympics athletes, both young and old, are provided with a place to practice. And his involvement with youth bowling extends far beyond the doors of Camelanes.

If there’s a tournament that deals with the youth, Mike is there,” said Kristin McKenney, Manager of the Gillette Bowling Association. “He listens to the youth and helps develop their ideas.”

Even though he is a competitive bowler with a 230 average, Divis says he likes the Grand Prix Scholarship Program model that Wyoming utilizes because it rewards participation rather than performance. “We have about $350,000 in our state allocated to our kids,” he said. “I’m very proud of what our state organization has been able to do.”

As the local energy-based economy has experienced occasional challenges, Divis has brought more BPAA programs to the center, as well as a growing list of Smart Buy partnerships. He continues to host house tournaments and develop statewide tournaments both for Camelanes and other centers to host. And he traverses the state on a regular basis on behalf of the state proprietors’ association — knowing that what’s good for his business will be good for bowling in general.

The BPAA Proprietor of the Year award normally is presented at International Bowl Expo, but because this year’s Expo was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it instead will be presented at the East Coast Bowling Centers Convention, scheduled for Oct. 19-21 in Atlantic City, N.J. For more on that event, click here: http://bpaa.com/ecbcc.

Meanwhile, see the June issue of Bowling Center Management (BCM) magazine for a special cover story on Divis.

Past BPAA Proprietor of the Year recipients: 2019, Mike Logan, Grand Station Entertainment, College Station, Texas; 2018, the Buffaloe family (brothers John, Ricky and Bill), Buffaloe Lanes centers, North Carolina; 2017, John Losito, Sun Valley Lanes, Lincoln, Neb.; and 2016, Jim Chambers, Cloverleaf Family Bowl, Fremont, Calif.

Brunswick Adjusts Ball Releases Based on Market Conditions

Brunswick Bowling Products has announced new Entry Level and Lower Mid-Price balls for its Brunswick, Columbia 300 and Ebonite brands, with a universal release date of July 2.

“We have held off on this announcement as we have been trying to gauge the market to determine what products to introduce,” said Bugsy Kelly, the company’s Director of Marketing for Consumer Products. “And in full disclosure, we have removed many balls from our 2020 product plan, along with adjusting our timelines as well.

To give you some perspective, Brunswick and Ebonite International launched a total of 45 ‘urethane’ balls during the months of May through September last year, and for the same time period this year, we will reduce the number of ‘urethane’ ball launches to 21 total balls for our seven brands — clearly a significant reduction in an effort to accommodate the changing market conditions.”

Kelly added that the company would not be announcing new Rhino, Twist or TZone bowling balls.

Carolina Proprietors Consider Suing Governor

Even after providing a detailed, 17-point plan for a safe reopening, bowling centers in North Carolina were denied the ability to reopen by Governor Roy Cooper, prompting proprietors to consider suing the governor.

We don’’t understand where the line in the sand was drawn,” Nancy Schenk, owner of B&B Lanes in Fayetteville and a past president of the BPAA, told ABC-11 “At this point, some businesses are allowed to open and others are not and we feel like we were on the wrong side of that.”

North Carolina operators planned to implement protocols embraced by proprietors that have been allowed to reopen in other states, including limited capacity, the use of Plexiglass dividers, enhanced cleaning and so on.

It’s disheartening to not be able to do what we love and run the business we opened back on Aug. 10, 1959,” Schenk added. “Bowling has served our communities for a long time and at the end of the day, you don’t go bowling with strangers. You’re coming to go bowling with your family.”

Nevada Governor Doesn’t Make It Easy on Bowling Centers

There’s no question that the reopening process has been a source of frustration for proprietors across of country — the degree of frustration based on the timing and restrictions dictated by each state’s governor.

Don’t get Mike Monyak started about what he has been dealing with in order to get the South Point Bowling Center ready for reopening Thursday in Las Vegas, attempting to adhere to the “Governor’s Roadmap to Recovery for Nevada.”

We know there will be people coming in and inspecting the operation, making sure that we’re doing everything right,” said Monyak, South Point’s Director of Bowling Operations. “So I’ve been following the section called ‘Guidelines for Bowling Alleys.’”

The section includes a number of protocols, some deemed mandatory, and others categorized more loosely as “best practices.”

It’s mostly common-sense stuff,” Monyak said. “It’s stuff we would have been — and have been — doing anyway. Not long after we were shut down, I began cleaning house balls.”

But this part of the section proved bewildering to Monyak:

* Ensure minimum 6 feet between people, adjust floor plan for tables or booths.

* Daily deep disinfection of high contact surfaces (e.g. door handles, light switches, seats, railings, cabinetry handles, light switches, seats, railings, cabinetry handles, appliance handles, toilets, countertops, phones, tablets, etc.).

* Regulate max number of people in alley spaces keeping at least 2 empty rows between guest[s].

* Alternate rows between customers.

* Utilize remote ticketing.

When I read that second bullet point, I was confused at first,” Monyak said. “Why were they repeating things? Then it hit me: They were cutting and pasting.”

That made sense, since many businesses share similar features that would need to be cleaned regularly.

Then it got stranger, with protocols that had nothing to do with bowling centers. But Monyak quickly determined that whomever was putting the guidelines together had been doing more cutting and pasting — from the section dealing with movie theaters.

That’s the challenge we’re facing here,” Monyak said. “We want to adhere to all the guidelines, but they sure make it challenging to do so.”

South Point and its bowling center did open as scheduled on Thursday. All other Las Vegas casinos housing large bowling centers also were scheduled to reopen Thursday, with the exception of Texas Station. No reopening date has been announced for that property.

BPA of Illinois Distributes Reopening Packages

The Bowling Proprietors Association of Illinois decided not to wait for the governor to green-light the reopening of centers, and has been sending out special reopening packages to member centers to help them prepare.

The packages include hand sanitizer, reusable mask shields for frontline staff, social distance floor decals and a neoprene facemask, along with reordering instructions.

The number of items each center received was based on the center’s lane count.

CH Distillery CEO Tremaine Atkinson supplied the hand sanitizer, as his company was doing for local hospitals. He also gifted each proprietor with a 50-ml. sample bottle of his primary product, known as Malört, noting in an email to ISBPA Executive Director Bill Duff, “Everyone could use a shot these days.”

Noted Duff: “You gotta love how people connect in a time of crisis.”

Creative Works’ Amusement 360 Is Moved to Digital Platform

Due to ongoing circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Creative Works has converted its upcoming Amusement 360 event to a virtual conference, with free registration.

The virtual event will take place on June 23-24. Day one will focus on new startups, while day two will center on existing operators. The streamlined content will make it easy for participants to find the sessions that will have the greatest impact on their businesses, the company said.

“During times like this, everyone deserves the opportunity to learn, ask questions, and see how other operators are solving problems,” said Danny Gruening, Vice President of Marketing at Creative Works. “We eliminated the barrier to entry so nobody has to travel or pay for registration. We’re excited to provide a virtual educational platform that will make a huge impact for both startups and existing operators.”

The agenda includes a wide range of entertainment topics, including project financing, attraction selection, facility design, hiring and training staff, leadership skills, and more. 

The event will incorporate plans to help existing businesses endure the impact of the pandemic and thrive in the coming months. Creative Works is bringing in some of the top operators in the industry to share their thoughts and strategies on a variety of post-COVID topics. 

Scheduled to appear are Michael Browning (Urban Air Adventure Park), Eddie Hamann (Andretti Indoor Karting & Games), Darren Des Roches and Phil Kaplan (GameWorks), Keri Little and Jenny Emley (High Five), Jay Trietley (Alley Cats), and Marc Wiese (Airway Fun Center). Trietley quarterbacks the “BEC Hot List” game rankings in BCM and BEC.

The event also will feature digital networking opportunities, and the chance to connect with leading industry vendors and experts.

To learn more and register for free, visit: https://amusement360.com/event/.

F2FEC to Return in 2021 With ‘Rise’ as Theme

Organizers of F2FEC have announced that the conference for family entertainment center operators will return in 2021, with “Rise” as the theme.

Since the inception of F2FEC, there has been a deliberate and strategic selection of themes for the conference experience. The choice of “Rise” for 2021 was determined in 2019, but the world has changed and so has the context for the theme.

What we envisioned in 2019 is less important,” the organizers said in a media release. “Now is the focus; the future is the focus; the world, the nation, our industry face huge challenges with the physical and cultural shifts brought upon us by COVID-19, and ‘Rise’ we must.”

The 2021 trade event will focus completely on guiding the industry through “Reset (identifying priorities and finding clarification), Rebuild (from the inside out, understanding the cultural transformation taking place) and Reach (choices and the option to live life and conduct business with meaning and purpose for generations to come).”

An early March timeframe is anticipated. Details and information will be posted on the F2FEC Facebook page and at: www.F2conference.com.

Reopening Suggestion: Focus on Best Customers

As international amusement operators prepare to reopen their facilities after the COVID-19 shutdown, Intercard’s Jerry Heinz offered tips on how to bring back their best customers.

One of the most important questions FEC operators should be asking themselves, Heinz said, is: How are you rewarding your top spenders?

Having travelled 150 hotel nights a year with hundreds of thousands of air miles accumulated, I have become truly knowledgeable on frequent flyer programs, elite status, or memberships and their many benefits,” Heinz said. “I [have been] receiving promotional emails with offers from all the companies that [I] usually work with. These programs are making sure I am not forgetting about them, and it’s working.”

What does this mean for center operators, especially those with redemption operations?

Now is the time to reach out to your guests, keep them engaged and keep your business part of your customers’ top-of-mind awareness,” Heinz said. “If you are successful in doing so, you will be one of the first activities they do when they can leave the house.”

Heinz said proprietors should consider some of these options to target their best customers:

* Offer an invitation-only reopening night for your top 100 or 1,000 customers (based on spend in the last year).

* Set up memberships to reward top spenders, with the awards increasing based on spending levels attained.

* Promote sales with added bonus cash. Offer customers who purchase game cards now a bonus to use when your location opens. The cruise lines are pushing this type of offer (e.g., book a cruise now for 2021 for a huge discount and with extremely flexible conditions). Try to get the money now for future play.

I truly believe that the industry will thrive again in the future, and remembering your top spenders will help guarantee that,” Heinz added.

Business Briefs…

* Tenpins & More, one of the most active tournament centers in the country, has been allowed to reopen its restaurant, bar and pro shop, but not its bowling operation. The 24-laner in Rio Rancho, N.M., is simply waiting for the green light from New Mexico’s governor, and is anticipating a record and capacity field for its annual Albuquerque Open tournament in August.

* The Bureau of Indian Affairs has denied a proposal by the Coquille Indian Tribe to transform Roxy Ann Lanes into a casino and 111-room hotel in south Medford, Ore. The effort has been ongoing for eight years. The Tribe’s chairperson, Brenda Meade, says she’s “shocked, appalled and disappointed” at the decision to end further discussion of the Tribe’s application. The 24-lane bowling center, which stresses a family environment, is presently closed under Oregon’s COVID-19 mandates. You can learn more about the center here: https://roxyannlanes.com/.

* A juvenile was arrested at Stars and Strikes in Summerville, S.C., after a fight broke out at the FEC on Saturday night. Police said close to 300 juveniles were involved. Read more here: https://www.live5news.com/2020/05/31/summerville-police-juvenile-arrested-saturday-night-bowling-alley/.

* Centers are being allowed to reopen in Ohio this week, but some in the Cleveland area are opting to remain closed, citing an inability to pay bills if limited to 50 percent capacity. Report: https://www.cleveland19.com/2020/05/26/corner-alley-is-looking-forward-welcoming-back-bowlers-this-week/

* Could “pizzaburgers” be the savior of Second Strike Lanes in Brookville, Pa.? Chuck Morris purchased the center last year, invested in improvements, and had gained the trust of the center’s league bowlers. And then, after just six months in business, he was forced to shut down. “There was nothing I could do to prepare myself for a pandemic,” Morris told the Courier Express newspaper. Although the bowling operation has not been allowed to reopen, the center’s kitchen has, and Morris said the first weekend of offering take-out went well. Visit the center’s Facebook page and scroll down to take a look at its menu: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Bowling-Alley/Second-Strike-Lanes-516532452042373/.

Other News You Can Use…

* The latest challenge match between the Viking Raiders and the Street Profits — two tag teams employed by World Wrestling Entertainment — took place on bowling lanes during Monday’s “Raw” telecast on USA Network. You can see excerpts from the match here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhp1a6wdczg. The segment was taped at Three Point Bowling Center, a 16-lane facility in Orlando, Fla. Check out the center’s website here: http://www.threepointbowl.com. Those with a keen eye will note that the center features Brunswick capital equipment, Twister pins and QubicaAMF rental shoes. Spoiler alert: The Raiders won the match by a single pin.

* It has been many years since bowling pins were knocked down at San Clemente Bowling Center in south Orange County, save for the occasional California earthquake. Now, the 74-year-old facility’s fate has been sealed. The new owner of the property, who purchased it last December along with the adjacent Miramar Theater, will bulldoze the building, then build a new structure that will serve as a food court for the theater. Some of the lanes from the center, which opened in 1946, will be preserved and repurposed for table tops for the food court and other possible uses. Read more here: https://www.sanclementetimes.com/bowling-center-to-be-demolished-then-restored/.

* Here’s the latest podcast schedule from the International Bowling Campus. All times shown are Eastern, and all shows are available on demand on all listed platforms.

 – Inside The OC: Stuart Sheck and Dwayne Brossett, June 4 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.
– Throwback Thursday Match: 2001 Brunswick World Women’s Open with Carolyn Dorin-Ballard vs. Michelle Feldman, June 4 at 4 p.m. on BowlTV
– The Sport of Bowling Show with Frank Wilkinson and Andrew Cain, June 5 at 1 p.m. BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.
– The Gauntlet with Missy Parkin and Scott Norton, June 5 at 4 p.m. on BowlTV

– The PWBA Podcast: Diana Zavjalova, June 8 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

– The Sport of Bowling Show Special Edition with Melissa McDaniel, June 9 at 1 p.m. BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

– Digital Collegiate Experience, June 9 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

– Digital Collegiate Experience, June 10 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

* The guest this week on Phantom Radio is Mike Valanzalo. See how he fares in the ongoing trivia contest here: https://www.kegel.net/phantomblog/2020/6/3/mike-valanzano-phantom-radio.

* CONTACT: Please send business news, event information, etc. to Bob Johnson at bjibob@aol.com. For breaking business news, visit bcmmag.com or bowlersjournal.com, “Like” Bowling Center Management and Bowlers Journal International on Facebook, and follow BJI on Twitter (Twitter.com/BowlersJournal). BJI Cyber Reports are now archived at bcmmag.com. Please remember that the Cyber Report is a B-to-B publication and not intended for consumers.

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