SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Goodbye Bowling
By Neil Gray


September 08, 2006

I'm really disappointed in the ownership's decision to close Ketchikan Entertainment Center's bowling operation.

I guess I can sort of understand the decision from a financial viewpoint in the business world. Since I arrived in San Diego in 1998 six bowling centers have closed. On those properties are condos (housing shortage you know), a 24 Hour Fitness Center, a very large construction company, and it goes on and on. They were viable bowling centers, but they made a killing in the real estate market by closing and selling.

Brian is right. Owning a bowling center is not a get rich operation, BUT you can run a very financially healthy operation. The key is knowing the bowling business. Owners who do not understand or know what it takes to make a bowling center profitable will not succeed. It is not like running a jewelry store, grocery store, or other retail business. Bowling is a business where you have to be assertive and go after the business, always looking for new ideas and avenues of approach.

I managed the bowling center under the direction of Tom O'Dowd, then Ross Nagamini. Our lanes were full of leagues, and the recreational bowlers poured in on weekends. We had high school graduation all-night parties, the Coast Guard and other companies rented the lanes for holiday parties, and we held a lot of tournaments. Under Tom's and Ross' direction it was possible to try new things. You see, they knew the bowling business and knew what it takes to make one succeed.

We worked with the Ketchikan Bowling Aassociation in developing tournaments. Remember the Ketchikan Men's Masters? We drew bowlers from Anchorage, Fairbanks, Portland, Oregon, etc. We found sponsors locally so we could offer big money prizes to draw in these bowlers. Our state tournaments were run so well that we were always told Ketchikan was their favorite site for a state event. They said they'd come here every year if they could get away with it.

I have managed not only Ketchikan Bowling Center, but one in Sedro Woolley, Washington, Astoria, OR, AMF Rockwood in Portland, OR,. and worked at three centers in San Diego.
So, I too, have seen differences in success in various centers. Believe me, it takes work.

It's one more entertainment source gone now for Ketchikan. I cannot believe a 16 lane bowling center in Ketchikan cannot be successful. The owners bailing out may not believe me when they read this. But, I was there; Brian was there; and we both know. A lot of staff members and other interested bowlers had worked pretty hard to make it work. But when you have ownership that doesn't understand, you lose.

COST vs ROI. Very good point. That's the way the bowlilng business works.

So... Allyn and Diane Hayes, Barb Richrdson, Tami Rambosek, Nancy Harrison, Dick Zenge, Shirley Paulsen, my son Brian, and all the others whose names I might have left off (let me know who you are), thank you for your help. I'm sorry it's come to meet the fate of Billiken Bowl from years past.

I guess I'll start buying that $1 lotto ticket now too in hopes of bring bowling back to Ketchikan.

One big concern I have is, wbat will the YABA (Youth) bowlers do now?

Neil Gray
Lakeside, CA - USA


About: "Bowling Manager of KEC (when it was Ketchikan Bowling Center)"


Related Viewpoint:

letter All bowled out? What a shame. By Brian Gray - MO - USA



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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


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Ketchikan, Alaska