SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



All bowled out? What a shame.
By Brian Gray


September 05, 2006

I'm writing to you as an avid bowling fan and former Ketchikan resident that still considers Ketchikan his home. It saddens me to hear about the closing of the bowling center in my home town.

I grew up in and around the sport of bowling. I was inside Billiken Bowl nearly a day after my birth in 1972. My memories of that facility are few and I must rely on my memories of the Ketchikan Entertainment Center. I spent many a Saturday in the KEC as a youth bowler, then many a Thursday as an adult league bowler. Then came Sundays, then Fridays, then just about every evening I could. For me, it became an addiction.

The owners of the KEC gave me an employment opportunity in 1993 (or so) that I will not soon forget. They gave me a responsibility that I learned from and in an odd way still learn from today. However even then, I could see the writing on the wall.

I moved away from Ketchikan nearly 11 years ago to pursue a bowling opportunity with the AMF Bowling Corporation in Kansas City, MO. That opportunity would not have been available to me without my KEC experience. Although I am not employed by AMF today, that experience will carry with me forever as well. In fact, it is that experience that helped me understand the true difficulties in owning a bowling center. There are variables far beyond those that a casual bowler could ever imagine.

We know the stories of the almighty shrinking entertainment dollar. Less dollars and more activities spells disaster for the sport of bowling. Take a look at high school sports. Just 11 years ago when I left Ketchikan high school baseball was just being introduced. There were no high school soccer, football and softball teams. That's just the tip of the iceburg.

I know from my conversations with current Ketchikan residents that there people that think the current ownership doesn't care much about the bowling and cares more about other business interests. This may be true. I hope it is not. Is it fair to ask a business owner to forgo his or her profits to provide this form of recreation to the community? I'm not sure. I struggle with that question myself. One thing is for certain, nobody will ever get rich trying to operate a bowling center. I've been in and around the numbers. I can attest to that.

However, maybe the question being asked should be different. Maybe the question that should be asked is why would a non-bowler buy a bowling center? It happens, I'm sure. But in Ketchikan's case what would have happened if he or she didn't? Well, you re finding out now.

I will always believe that a bowling center in some form can be a viable business in Ketchikan. Nobody has done it right. It's always been an outdated sport in Ketchikan. Nothing has ever been done to make the customers WANT to walk through the door. Nothing has been done to promote the sport of bowling in Ketchikan. How long did it take to bring something as simple as automatic scoring to town? Cosmic bowling? Synthetic (easy to maintain, might I add) lanes? The list goes on. Go ahead, hit me with your complaints of how much this all costs. I'm ready for it, and will battle you to the end on COST versus ROI. I've done the research and the work to understand this. Ketchikan's bowling center owners must (shall I now say should have) change the thought process from EXPENSE to OPPORTUNITY. If everything is an expense, you'll never succeed in this competition for the entertainment dollar. (I know, easy for me to say because it's not MY money). That being said, the owners also must realize and define opportunity. Opportunity ($$$) in the bowling business isn't the same as it is in other businesses.

I'm rambling now with thoughts all over the board. This diatribe is going to make zero sense to you as it is. The more I write, the more frustrated I get. So I'll stop. One thing is for sure, it is obvious that the lack of comments in the Ketchikan Daily News and here in Sitnews shows me that maybe this decision to close the bowling center is a good one. Maybe even one that goes unnoticed. Did you even KNOW that the bowling center is closed?

I wish the residents of Ketchikan were as upset as I am. I am disappointed, saddened, and even angered. But I am not surprised. I wish I could help. Although my desire is there, my $1000 bills are not.

Brian Gray
Kansas City, MO - USA


About: 24 year resident of Ketchikan. Once employed by KEC before moving to Kansas City to join the corporate bowling world. Managed bowling centers in Kansas City for AMF for several years before leaving the industry. Plays $1 per week in the Powerball Lottery with an effort to bring his passion back to the city he calls home.


Related News:

Bowling alley could close By LEILA KHEIRY KDN Staff Writer - Citing high overhead costs and low revenue, the owners of the Ketchikan Entertainment Center have made tentative plans to close the bowling alley and renovate its 16 lanes into eight 1,300-square-foot office and retail spaces. - Read this Ketchikan Daily News Story (Subscription Required)...
February 25, 2006 - Ketchikan Daily News


Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


Send A Letter -------Read Letters

E-mail the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska