Cyber Report #1123

E-dition No. 1,123 • Friday, August 21, 2020

Editor: Bob Johnson (bjibob@aol.com)

Iconic Orange County Center Goes Up for Sale

Rumors have been swirling about Fountain Bowl, the 60-lane center in Fountain Valley, Calif., which has hosted PBA, PWBA, PBA50, U.S. Open and countless other tournaments through the years.

One rumor is that the center was being purchased by Bowlero Corp.

False.

Another is that it already had been sold for $11 million.

False.

Owned by veteran proprietors Gary Forman and Dave Osborn, the center is a community hub, hosting countless bowl-a-thons each year. It has long had a strong league base, along with a popular watering hole dubbed Ozzie’s Place, a busy snack bar and a pro shop operated by PBA Hall of Famer Barry Asher. It also makes lanes available for regularly scheduled instructional sessions featuring Asher and PBA champion-turned-coach Mark Baker.

But because California Governor Gavin Newsom has refused to allow bowling centers to reopen, Forman and Osborn have come to the difficult decision to put the center up for sale.

From an emotional perspective, it was difficult to close this place,” when mandated by the governor to do so in March, Forman said. “When we were allowed to reopen in June, we operated at about 35% [of normal revenue] the first week, and were up to about 50% the second week. So we were hopeful.

And then [Newsom] shut us down again. It was supposed to be for three weeks, and now it has been six. We just finally got tired of dealing with the uncertainty. We know how to operate our business and keep everyone safe, and we’re just not being allowed to do so.”

Forman stressed that, “We’re not just walking away from it. We love operating the bowl. And when we’re finally allowed to reopen, we’ll operate it until it sells.”

Who the buyer is will determine the center’s ultimate fate.

In my opinion, it’s doubtful it would sell as a bowling center,” Forman said. “It’s more likely to be primarily a land deal because of the real estate values in Fountain Valley. We’ve spoken with brokers, and there are a few possible scenarios.”

If the center were to close permanently after being sold, Forman added, 72 people would be put out of work.

California Bowlers to Rally for Reopening at State Capitol

When the Cyber Report spoke with Gary Forman, he was driving north to California’s capital city of Sacramento, where a group of bowlers and industry leaders were preparing to take part in a rally at the state capitol building today.

A number of bowling centers up and down the state hosted their own rallies on Wednesday, but one at Steve Cook’s Fireside Lanes in Sacramento had to be cancelled due to poor air quality caused by large brush fires in the area.

The Friday rally at the state capitol was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the south-side steps at 11th and N Streets.

In a Facebook post on the “Open California Bowling Centers Now” page, organizers wrote, “Wear your bowling jerseys! Everyone please wear a mask! Social distancing in effect — we want to show our sport’s responsibility! This is not a political event! Please do not wear political hats or clothing — [or] you will be asked to leave.”

Ric Hamlin of Steve Cook’s Bowling Supply and Gran Prix Bowling Supply was lining up speakers for the rally.

Forman estimated that upwards of 9,000 people are employed in California bowling centers — when they’re allowed to operate at full capacity.

New Mexico Governor Ignores Pleas from Proprietors

Steve Mackie provided an update on the state of affairs in New Mexico for the upcoming 25th Anniversary issue of Bowling Center Management.

Here is his report:

New Mexico’s 30 commercial bowling centers have been ordered closed continuously since the middle of March.

The state’s governor never responded to letters, emails or a request for a face-to-face meeting in order to discuss how safely — particularly in the slower summer months — bowlers could ‘social distance,’ bowl in masks if necessary, and follow all other required guidelines created by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

League bowlers, who own their own equipment, [are being] denied the opportunity to either finally complete their interrupted winter season, or even sign up for the new fall season, because of the inability of centers to provide a re-opening date.”

Another Washington Center Is Forced to Close

Brothers Steve and Tim Turner, proprietors of Fairway Lanes in Centralia, Wash., have decided to throw in the towel after being forced to close on March 17 and not allowed to reopen by the state’s governor. The brothers also cited family health concerns in their decision.

In a Facebook post, Tim and Susan Turner and Steve and Elisa Turner wrote:

Over the last 16 years of our ownership we have encountered obstacles such as the major flood of 2007 and then rebuilding of the center, then we all suffered the loss of our beloved Gene Jonas — and now this new challenge of an unseen virus that has gripped our country, crippling many businesses, and costing so many lives.

We want to thank all of our loyal bowlers for their support, this community, and the countless special events — Special Olympics, churches and school events — and the many area businesses that we were able to host over the years, and our staff of loyal employees that loved bowling and have helped us all these years.”

The brothers said they hope to find a new owner who could maintain the business as a bowling center. They noted that it is fully equipped to handle COVID-19 protocols once allowed to reopen. Read more here: http://www.chronline.com/news/fairway-lanes-closes-its-doors-after-62-years-of-business/article_23608e8c-e31e-11ea-a6e8-b74ae679dca6.html.

Earlier, Glacier Lanes in Everett, Wash., closed. (See Cyber Report No. 1,122.)

Pandemic Forces QubicaAMF World Cup to Move Again

World Bowling and QubicaAMF Worldwide have announced another rescheduling of the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup from next March into the time frame of next year’s tournament — October 2021 — due to ongoing circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Given the continuous changing climate around the coronavirus, worldwide travel restrictions that remain in place and with the ultimate health and safety of athletes, officials and organizers in mind, World Bowling and QubicaAMF have decided to further postpone the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup,” said Andrew Oram, CEO of World Bowling.

We remain committed to taking a responsible approach to enable athletes, hosts and organizers enough time to prepare for these events, including the necessary local qualifying events. We feel that an October 2021 timeframe will allow for safe planning and execution, which now is not feasible.”

Emanuele Govoni, CEO of the tournament’s long-time sponsor, added: “QubicaAMF is committed to the sport of bowling. In 56 years hosting this tournament, this is the first year that we have been forced to postpone the annual event. However, with the current status of the pandemic, we feel that this is unavoidable.

Our goal is to allow hosts to organize qualifying events in a safe environment, open to as many athletes as possible, so we can ultimately host a safe and successful Bowling World Cup for as many athletes as possible from around the world next October.”

World Bowling has established an Event Portfolio Working Group charged with looking for new dates to reschedule events once the pandemic subsides.

The inaugural Para Bowling World Cup will also be postponed and is planned to take place in Kuwait in May 2021 to avoid the congestion of the events being rescheduled in the latter part of the year. Final dates for both events will be provided at a future time.

Bowlero Enters Esports Realm in Alliance With Skillz

Bowlero Corp. and Skillz, a leading mobile games platform, are launching “Strike! By Bowlero,” a first-of-its-kind mobile esports game connecting the 30 million registered Skillz players with Bowlero’s 300 bowling centers nationwide.

Strike! By Bowlero” will be available in early September for iOS and Android users in the App Store and Google Play Store.

Touch Mechanics, a United Kingdom-based studio that has been creating Skillz-powered games since 2014, completely optimized the new game to merge the physical and digital worlds of Bowlero beyond the in-center experience, while bringing sponsored esports tournaments into Bowlero bowling centers.

Existing Skillz players will experience enhancements to the mobile game, one of which includes new blacklight bowling gameplay to mirror what is offered in Bowlero centers.

We really wanted the mobile experience to reflect the outstanding design guests come to expect when visiting a Bowlero center,” said Natalie McMahon, Creative Director at Bowlero Corp. “We’ve captured that unique energy and the social competition inherent to bowling, and we made it accessible from your personal device. It’s exciting!”

Bowlero’s 28 million annual customers will be introduced to the mobile experience, and can compete for cash prizes and bonuses in weekly tournaments and challenges, in addition to earning exclusive rewards redeemable at Bowlero centers.

Providing a digital experience to connect with guests off the lanes is more important than ever,” said Lev Ekster, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Bowlero Corp and COO of the Professional Bowlers Association. “With ‘Strike! By Bowlero,’ we’re able to offer more value to our guests when they’re not physically at our centers, while new players are introduced to Bowlero in a fun and exciting way.”

Added Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz: “Bowlero and Skillz are teaming up to create the future of bowling through a new mobile interactive game that ties the fun of a physical Bowlero experience into bite-sized entertainment that can be enjoyed at home or on the go. As the offline and online worlds are converging, new experiences like ‘Strike! By Bowlero’ merge these worlds to create the future of bowling off of the lane.”

Other News You Can Use…

* The September issue of Bowling Center Management, official publication of the BPAA, marks the magazine’s 25th anniversary and also will be “The List Issue II.” In addition to BCM’s usual array of business-building features for proprietors, the issue will include more than two dozen lists covering everything from leadership to food service, and from marketing to arcades.

* BPAA’s Bowling University has developed a new presentation called, “Flooring Leagues During COVID-19.” Utilizing input from proprietors around the country, it features tips on league bowler and league officer communication, conducting league meetings, suggested league formats, safety and sanitation protocols for leagues, and more. Check it out here: https://bowlinguniversity.net/opening/Bowling/ArtMID/7795/ArticleID/55/Flooring-Fall-Leagues-During-COVID-19.

* Roadhouse Cinemas in Colorado Springs, Colo., is taking movie watching to a new level. Shaffer Distributing has added 42 games to the company’s first location that features bowling, an arcade and an expanded food-and-beverage selection.

* The High Roller organization has rescheduled its annual Columbus Day event from October to April. The renamed April Seniors Team Classic is now scheduled for April 11-16 at the Gold Coast Bowling Center in Las Vegas. A new tournament brochure may be accessed here: https://mcusercontent.com/e954933b43687518e8486499e/files/c2c3e645-7ec2-4b3e-b255-fd77f38c1e19/2021_April_Senior_Team_Classic_Brochure.pdf.

* PBA Commissioner Tom Clark is the subject of a lengthy feature article in the Buffalo News, which includes a comment from Luby Publishing Inc. President Keith Hamilton. Check it out here: https://buffalonews.com/sports/buff-state-graduate-tom-clark-has-pro-bowling-tour-on-a-roll/article_dcba430e-e004-11ea-90ba-234610b7bb15.html.

* A celebration of life service for Jeff Schilling, the founder of Creative Works, has been scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 30 at The Bluffs at Connor Prairie, 13080 Allisonville Rd., Fishers, IN 46038. Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m., and the service will begin at 4:30. Guests are invited to honor Schilling’s life by wearing their favorite blue clothing, shoes or accessory.

* 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 Steven Fisher and Cotie Holbek, Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.
– The PWBA Podcast with Tish Johnson, Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC and PWBA Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

– Bowling Explained with Valerie Bercier, Aug. 26 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

– Inside The OC with Anthony Pepe, Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. on BowlTV, USBC Facebook and BowlTV on YouTube.

* Check out this week’s edition of Phantom Radio, as veteran BJI correspondent Lyle Zikes takes part in the Phantom Trivia Contest: https://kegel.squarespace.com/phantomblog/2020/8/19/lyle-zikes-phantom-radio.

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