BIRTHPLACE OF ‘MEGABUCK’ TOURNAMENTS TO CLOSE

Elk Grove Bowl in Elk Grove Village, Ill., is closing at the end of April, ending a 60-year run.

In Chicagoland, the facility was known for its leagues that catered to nearby industrial park workers as well as O’Hare International Airport employees during the salad years of the 1960s and 1970s. Owner Debbie Handler recalled her family introducing Cosmic Bowling during the 1980s and the league bowlers hating it but continuing to support the center, if in smaller numbers.

But it was in 1982 that Elk Grove Bowl attained national acclaim as the site of the American Dream Classic, which ushered in the era of the megabuck tournament, delaying the professional bowling debuts of Chris Barnes, Robert Smith and other future stars.

Handler, who joined the family business in 1981 and took over management in 1998, noted that Elk Grove Bowl had survived lean times — including recessions in the 1970s and the late 2000s, as well the more recent COVID-19 shutdowns — but had been thriving again more recently thanks to its league program and corporate parties.

But now she’s ready to retire and has sold the business to the village for $2.7 million. In its place will be a mixed-use development with both retail and residential components.

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