Cyber Report #1121

E-dition No. 1,121 • Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

Editor: Bob Johnson (bjibob@aol.com)

New Classification Helps Reopen Centers in Illinois

Is bowling a sport or recreation?

That question has been at the forefront of bowling’s Olympic Games quest for decades. And now, the answer to that question has become an important element in the reopening of tenpin centers in one Midwest state.

The Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association has agreed, with the approval of its board of directors, to a settlement offer with the state of Illinois, moving bowling into “all sports” guidance rather than the “indoor recreation” guidance originally announced in the Restore Illinois phase four posting on June 22.

The accepted settlement takes effect immediately.

Here are the basic details of the agreement, according to ISBPA Executive Director Bill Duff:

* Bowling centers will be governed by the “All Sports” guidelines under the Restore Illinois Plan, rather than the indoor recreation guidelines. The current guidelines were adopted by the governor on July 30.

* Bar or restaurant services offered at bowling centers will be governed by the guidance for bars and restaurants.

* The “All Sports” guidelines require a 30-ft. distance between groups of 50. This may be accomplished by maintaining at least two unused lanes between groups of up to 50, which is consistent with guidance previously provided by local public health departments.

* Bowling centers will adhere to a maximum capacity of 50 percent of occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer, with the understanding that if COVID-19 cases should decrease and there are no outbreaks associated with bowling centers, the governor is willing to revisit that limit.

* In the event the applicable guidelines are changed in the future for all businesses covered by the applicable category, bowling centers will comply with the amended guidelines. So, if guidelines for “All Sports” become more restrictive, they will apply to bowling centers. Likewise, if the guidelines become less restrictive, those also will apply to bowling centers.

We have also assured the state that our members will continue to comply with procedures developed by ISBPA and BPAA guidelines and best practices,” Duff said.

Former Military Base Center to Be Redeveloped

Like a number of venerable military bases, New Jersey’s Fort Monmouth was targeted for redevelopment after it was closed.

Now, even as bowling centers across the country fight for survival as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a development company is moving forward with plan to transform and rebrand the base’s bowling facility.

Earlier this week, plans to add 10,000 square feet of space to the existing 17,599-sq.-ft. structure were approved by the burrough of Monmouth Planning Board. Mayor Anthony Talerico Jr. said the developer, Parker Creek Partners, also purchased a liquor license from Eatontown. The borough has six licenses to distribute on the old fort grounds that are located within its municipality.

The next step is for Parker Creek Partners to close on the purchase of the 2.8-acre site with the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, the state entity that is redeveloping the former U.S. Army installation, located about five miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

During its heyday, the post was akin to a small town, with a Post Exchange, health clinic, gas station and other amenities, including the bowling center and the SunEagles Golf Course, one of the most prominent Department of Defense courses in the country.

Plans call for the development of a unique entertainment experience by refurbishing the existing bowling lanes; adding additional indoor and outdoor recreational activities such as bocce, pool, and shuffleboard; constructing a bar and eatery; and creating multi-purpose event spaces. The developer said it intends to invest approximately $5.2 million in the project, and will rechristen the center as The Alley at The Fort.

Arcade/Candlepins Operator Running Out of Money and Time

Add Ryan Family Amusements in South Yarmouth, Mass., to the list of bowling center operators struggling to survive amid government mandates associated with the pandemic.

The company, which operates as Ryan’s, consists of nine businesses — three solely as arcades, and six with arcades and candlepin lanes. The Ten Pin Eatery in the Cape Cod Mall also includes a 300-seat restaurant.

The five owners say the business is not being treated fairly under Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, and don’t understand why casinos can open to the public while their arcades, which provide up to 70% of their overall revenue, were moved from phase three to phase four of the state’s reopening plan at the last minute and with no warning.

At present, only the bowling and food-service components of the company’s operation have been allowed to open, and as the lucrative summer season slips by, the owners say the business is quickly running out of money.

We were very strong before this happened,” said Ryan’s Vice President Bill Campbell. “Now we’ve used the money we had in the bank and are almost out of the (Paycheck Protection Program) funds we got.”

The company has spent more than $200,000 on air-purifying systems, Plexiglass shields, sanitizing equipment and other COVID-19 related equipment, all in anticipation of an early July opening under phase three of the state’s plan.

While the arcades must remain closed, bowling is operating at about 8 to 10 percent of its expected numbers, as people remain cautious about COVID-19.

COVID-19, Governor Claim Venerable Washington Center

As we reported in Cyber Report No. 1,120 with our story on California’s Cloverleaf Family Bowl, the pandemic plays no favorites when it comes to the bowling centers that it strikes down.

Now, the owners of a legendary center in Everett, Wash., have been forced to throw in the towel. Glacier Lanes, which had served its community for more than six decades, had to close as the governor of Washington continues to provide no indication of when bowling centers in the state may be allowed to reopen.

“With utility bills, gas bills, insurance and payroll, there was not enough money to pay those, and all we do is down, down, down, down,” co-owner Larry Miller, part of the family that has operated the center 1957, said.

Miller told FOX Seattle that the decision to close was “very heartbreaking.” He said he had endured “lots of sleepless nights. I probably woke up every morning at 2 o’clock just with anxiety because i have staff that have been here for 24 years, 16 years, 14 years, 22 years, and my heart goes out for them.”

Here are excerpts from the family’s post on Facebook announcing the closure:

It’s with heavy hearts that the we (Miller family) have to call it quits after 63 years serving the public. Sadly, the mandated closures and the lack of direction from Washington state’s elected officials has officially claimed a family-operated icon of entertainment in Snohomish County.

Due to the lack of income (caused by the impossible-to-succeed, restrictions-based ‘phased’ game plan), it is no longer possible to offset the monthly power, utilities, insurance and payroll (just to name a few) from the past six months.

We have held out hope (as well as remodeled and revamped the building and how we conduct business), as well as followed every safety and sanitize guideline issued by the state, to no avail.”

The post was signed by Tuffy, Larry, Steve and Tom Miller — today’s family operators of another family business shuttered in part by the coronavirus and in part by a governor’s management of the situation.

High School, Wiseman Tournaments Cancelled for 2020

Although all United States Bowling Congress national tournaments have been cancelled for the remainder of 2020, a number of independent tournament operators have been holding out hope that they would be able to conduct theirs.

But on July 15, Mchael Nyitray announced that the 2020 U.S. High School Bowling National Championship, which had been scheduled to take place July 25-27 in Dayton, Ohio, had been cancelled.

Nyitray said that Dayton’s Poelking Lanes South already has agreed to host the 2021 tournament, with the tentative dates being June 19-21 or 26-28.

Earlier this week, Danny Wiseman announced that he had decided to cancel this year’s Danny Wiseman Youth Scholarship Tournament, which had been scheduled to take place Oct. 10-11 at AMF Country Club Lanes in Baltimore.

It saddens me greatly to have to cancel my event this year, as I had hoped that in some way our world would be improving by the summer [and] into the fall,” Wiseman wrote in announcing the cancellation. “Over the last few weeks there have been increases in [COVID-19] cases in many surrounding states and in Maryland.

The financial burdens on families with this crisis is a huge issue that I have considered, as well as the travel restrictions that are in place for some states (and probably more coming) to be able to sustain 300-plus entries again this year,” Wiseman added. “Seventy-five percent of entries came from surrounding states last year and in 2018. The expenses of traveling that would be placed upon families this year is unjust… [especially with] many not working.”

Wiseman noted that his event is “sponsor driven,” and he felt it was inappropriate to ask the many small businesses, pro shops, bowling manufacturers and individuals that have supported the event through the years to contribute to a tournament in a year that has been so challenging — and in some cases devastating — for them. Add in capacity limits that bowling centers in Maryland currently are operating under, and Wiseman said he had no choice but to cancel the tournament.

I will be setting the dates for the 2021 event with the great folks at AMF-Bowlero, and will start on this next spring, God willing and that this pandemic has passed and the world is back to normal,” Wiseman added.

Modifications Planned for South Point Senior Shootout

The 2020 South Point Senior Shootout, scheduled for mid-November in Las Vegas, is still on, according to Tournament Director Ron Mohr.

However, in a note to participants, Mohr said that planning already is well underway to revamp some aspects of the event, including maximum field counts and starting times, in order to adhere to local and state-mandated social distancing requirements that may still be in place at the time.

Unfortunately, no spectators may be allowed in the Bowling Plaza throughout the week,” Mohr noted.

New York Proprietors Get Creative in Working to Sway Cuomo

The sign posted outside The All Star in Riverhead, N.Y., for all passersby to see embodies one part hope and one part desperation. It reads: “GOVERNOR CUOMO / PLEASE LET US / REOPEN / BOWLING / WE ARE READY.”

The center is owned by Chris Keller, who told the Riverhead News-Review, “This is a dire situation for most bowling centers across the state, Most of us are mom and pops. We’re individually owned centers. I know if this continues, many of us are going to shut down.”

New York proprietors are beyond frustrated by the lack of guidance being provided by the governor.

We have no guidance,” Keller said. “We just know we’re doing everything we can to try to get his attention and to try to get him to mention the plan for bowling centers in one of his press conferences. It’s just not happening.”

Former BPAA President John LaSpina also sent a message to Cuomo, renting a sign-toting airplane that flew along a New York beach. The sign read: “GOVERNOR OPEN BOWLING NOW.”

LaSpina and others also have been contacting various politicians, including New York State Senator John Brooks, who now is supporting the reopening of centers throughout New York state. LaSpina thanked Sen. Brooks on behalf of the 300 centers that depend on opening for the livelihoods of the owners and their 9,000 employees.

To read about all the precautions Keller has taken — representing a substantial investment — click here: https://riverheadnewsreview.timesreview.com/2020/08/101576/awaiting-word-from-the-governor-riverhead-bowling-alley-says-its-ready-to-reopen/.

Meanwhile, Kevin Hong shared the news that Van Nest Lanes in Bronx, N.Y., has closed. Hong photographed the center in August 2017, and you can view a picture of its interior in a July 1 post on the “Vintage Alleys by Kevin Hong” Facebook page.

To read a feature on Van Nest Lanes, published in The New York Times in 2018, click here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/nyregion/the-pin-chaser-in-charge.html.

Michigan Proprietors Plan to March at State Capitol

There could be plenty of photo ops on Aug. 12 in Lansing, Mich., as that’s the tentative date selected by bowling center owners in Michigan for a demonstration at the state capitol building in Lansing.

We’re at the point where we’re going to lose half of our businesses,” Bo Goergen, Executive Director of the Bowling Centers Association of Michigan, told the Oakland County Times.

Goergen added that the event was not a protest. Rather, it is intended to highlight how precarious the plight is for bowling centers, and to call for change. To date, pleas to Governor Gretchen Whitmer have fallen on deaf ears.

Plans currently call for the demonstration to take place from noon until 3 p.m. on the 12th.

Read more here: http://oaklandcounty115.com/2020/08/04/bowling-center-owners-planning-demonstration-in-lansing/

Goal: Changing the Way the World Consumes Bowling

World Bowling and StriveCloud, a Belgian gamification technology company, have signed a three-year partnership to launch a direct-to-consumer app intended to unite millions of elite athletes, participants and fans with vibrant competitions and immersive viewing experiences.

The partnership is another step toward the objective of creating an innovative and immersive digital environment that adds a new dimension in experiencing bowling, from both athlete and a viewer perspective, with the ambition and potential to make bowling the most integrated and digitally connected sport in the world.

Freek Borghgraef, StriveCloud’s co-founder and head of customer development, said, “I was staggered to find out how data-driven the world of bowling is. Being able to track a broad set of statistics of almost any game of bowling played globally opens up a brave new world of possibilities to change the way the world consumes bowling. And that’s exactly the ambition.”

Added Chris Neilson, World Bowling’s Innovation and Business Development Director: “This is a giant step for us as we start to break from traditional methodology to partner with experts in the esports community to bring together our sport, our athletes and our federations.

Strivecloud will provide the core of our digital environment that allows us to build the platform and community along with QubicaAMF, Stack Sports, YBVR and future partners.”

Other News You Can Use…

* They’re playing hardball in Nebraska with their COVID-19 mandates, as an injunction was filed to shut down Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards for refusing to close for 24 hours after the center had been found to not be in compliance with Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department mandates. Madsen’s was ordered to close last Saturday, General Manager Benjamin Madsen refused to comply, and the matter was taken to court. A ruling is expected Monday. Read more here: https://journalstar.com/madsens-bowling-and-billiards-ordered-to-close-by-health-department-arrests-threatened-if-pool-tournament/article_bc1d581d-13c8-5da8-983f-629fde294f2c.html

* The bowling section of the Pinstripes location at the Pike & Rose development in North Bethesda, Md., was ordered closed by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, while the facility’s bistro was allowed to remain open. The shutdown order came even though only every other lane was being used, house balls were left on the ball-return racks after use so they could be sanitized, and guests were required to wear masks. Report: https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-beat/coronavirus/county-closes-down-bowling-alley-portion-of-north-bethesda-restaurant/.

* Oregon is one of a handful of states where proprietors have essentially been handcuffed by the governor in their effort — and need — to reopen. One long-time customer of Kellogg Bowl in Milwaukie has begun an online petition urging Governor Kate Brown to change her hardline stance on bowling centers, and the comments posted provide numerous reasons for her to change her mind. You can read — and sign, if you are so inclined — the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/kate-brown-please-let-kellogg-bowl-reopen?redirect=false. Cyber Report readers could be a big help in achieving and far exceeding the goal of 1,000 signatures.

* Organizers have announced that the fate of IAAPA Expo 2020 would be announced no later than Sept. 4. They’re holding out hope that an in-person event can be held, but with circumstances changing daily — particularly in Florida, where the event is held each year — it’s challenging to make a decision. In a correspondence sent to exhibitors, the IAAPA team wrote, “We are monitoring these complex developments and as we gather input from our members, we reevaluate and adjust our plans accordingly.”

* At present, the only bowling center in Burlington, Vt., is housed in the basement of St. Mark’s Parish church. Now, plans call for part of a warehouse on the other side of town to be leased to a development company that will use the space for 10 bowling lanes, a restaurant and a bar. Report: https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/life/2020/07/29/new-bowling-alley-proposed-burlington-warehouse/5521593002/.

* Veteran Windy City proprietor Bob Habetler, the long-time owner of Habetler Bowl, passed away on July 16. He was 77. For those wishing to make a memorial gift, the family suggested donations to the American Diabetes Association. Habetler Bowl has been serving Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood for more than 50 years.

* Deo Bernard may only have started bowling four years ago, but the résumé he has compiled on the lanes makes clear that the bowling world can plan on hearing about him for years to come.  At age 16 years and 213 days on July 24, Benard became the youngest PBA member to win a regional title as he captured the South Point West Challenge trophy after downing Dan Peters in the title match, 223-190, at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas. There’s a lot to this story, and you can get it all here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/16-year-old-deo-benard-becomes-youngest-pba-member-to-win-regional-title/

* 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 with Ryan Mouw, on Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.
– The PWBA Podcast, with Summer Jasmin on Aug. 10 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC and PWBA Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.
– The Sport of Bowling Show Special Edition with Karl Kielich on Aug. 11 at 1 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

– Inside The OC: with Jenny Wonders on Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

* PBA champion Hugh Miller discusses the many times he was a “dead rabbit” during his rookie season on the PBA Tour, some of the players on tour during his career and much more on this week’s edition of Phantom Radio. Listen here: https://kegel.squarespace.com/phantomblog/2020/8/5/hugh-miller-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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