Bowling Alley Announces Closing; A Dying Sport?

CJ's Willow Bowling Center announces this week they will close.
CJ's Willow Bowling Center announces they will close. The news raises the question, is bowling becoming a thing of the past? Are bowling alleys striking out when it comes to business in the River City?

"It's sad." More than forty years at Franklin Lanes, owner Dave King says now that CJ's Willow has closed, it leaves only four bowling alleys in Evansville. "There's probably a decrease from back in the 60s and 70s in league play, but the recreational type like birthday parties and company parties, that's more popular, " says King.

Why have some bowling alleys closed in the area? Is the sport becoming a thing of the past? King says Franklin Lanes opened in the 40s. King credits his success to keeping the lanes family friendly, clean, and keeping up with the times. "We put in new bowling lane surfaces back in 2008," says King.

King says though the game is not as popular as it was decades ago, league bowlers help keep the sport alive. He says about two-thirds of his business consists of league bowlers like Chuck Stratman. "We get to have a good time with each other as we are bowling," says Stratman.

He says the success behind a bowling alley lies in the owner. "He is very good about keeping it clean. That's a big plus for a lot of people is the cleanliness of it," says Stratman. He says bowling has become a more expensive past time. "A bowling ball is almost two-hundred dollars for a good ball."

Though technology advances, and the times change, the game of bowling is something many agree you can do your entire life. "There's recreation, there's exercise, and senior citizens bowl in daytime leagues because they want to keep active."

King says for a city the size of Evansville, four bowling alleys is actually a lot.

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