By Neil Gray
February 27, 2006
What a sad thing to happen should KEC close. From a sport and bowling aspect, it's actually a travesty. There were years when Ketchikan was without a bowling venue when Billikin Bowl closed, but with the opening of Ketchikan Bowling Center it made a comeback. I guess Ketchikan has caught up with the rest of the world in business decisions being made that obliterate entertainment and sports activities in search of other "more lucerative" opportunites.
In San Diego, during the 7 years I've been here, six bowling centers have closed leaving only 5, one of which is on the 32nd Street Naval Base. What's located in their place? Condos.
It amazes me Ketchikan wouldn't be able to support a bowling center. My experiences in bowling center management include Ketchikan Bowling Center in the late 1980's. My son Brian, also managed the center at one time. Working with Ross Nagamini we started what was the Ketchikan Men's Masters sponsored by Rainier Beer distributors. We drew top notch bowlers from the Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka areas, plus one year we had bowlers from Oregon. Participation included at least one TEAM USA member.
Each year we took over 100 YABA (Young Adult Bowling Alliance)youth league bowlers out of town to participate in Alaska State Championships.
I recall the times KBC hosted the state Men's, Women's and Youth bowling tournaments. Attendance was always high because they were treated better in Ketchikan than at any other site in the state. If the organizations could have gotten away with it, I'm sure they'd been in Ketchikan every year.
The possible closing comes at a time when the town seems to be very concerned about getting youth involved in activities. If KEC closes, there goes one more link available for participation.
As I've managed 3 different
bowling centers, I know it's hard work and takes a concerted
effort to promote and be creative to get the public interested.
Bowling centers generally don't make the business work without
a hard working team of promoters.
Over the years a lot of concerned parents and other individuals have worked hard to fill 16 lanes of bowlers. I remember when all 16 were filled. There were times when crews from the cruise ships in town took their work breaks by bowling at KEC.
If KEC closes, good luck in your future venture. And for those of you who will be left out in the cold, I'm sorry for you.
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