News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 4, 2013

Terre Haute Bowling Center opens new arcade, play area

Changes in bowling industry leading to business diversification

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — With an eye on a changing dynamic in its industry, the Terre Haute Bowling Center has opened “Strikerz Party and Play,” a new arcade and play area.

Six months ago, the center began to remove 12 of its 40 bowling lanes, replacing the space with a 2,000-square foot soft play area, complete with inflatables, such as a 20-foot tall dual slide. The center will have six different inflatables that will be rotated out every month to six weeks, said manager Rick Braden.

“The bowling industry changed because the culture has changed so much to where open bowling has increased and league bowling has decreased. Our open bowling is fantastic. Our league bowling is down because that seems to be the trend nationwide,” Braden said.

A weak U.S. economy means less money for entertainment, he said.

As the economy gradually improves, Braden said, “many bowling centers across the United States are taking out lanes and putting in something else, like we have done, or maybe laser tag or bumper tag. Just more attractions.”

The new space also includes an arcade with a redemption center, where tickets can be cashed in for prices. The center this week will receive 25 new arcade machines, bringing its total to about 45 machines, with games for people ages 3 to adult. The entire non-bowling area is about 9,000 square feet. It can be used for birthday and company parties.

“By doing this, we become a certified family entertainment center,” Braden said.

The bowling center’s synthetic lanes are only four years old, replaced after being damaged in a June 2008 flood. Braden said the lanes that were removed were sold within two weeks to a buyer in New Zealand. The lanes were shipped and arrived in New Zealand in six days, he said.

“We are still in the bowling business and we will never be out of the bowling business,” Braden said. “We have a junior state tournament next year which will bring in 8,000 kids over two and a half months. Also this year, we will be bidding on the women’s state tournament, and if we receive that, it will bring in about 6,000 or 7,000 women for the following year,” Braden said.

The project was slated to be finished in December, but was delayed three months as its vendor for the arcade and inflatables was impacted by Hurricane Sandy, Braden said.

The Terre Haute Bowling Center contains about 40,000 square feet under roof and first opened in June 1977. The center, which has three separate rooms for birthday parties, also removed a wall, opening up its bar into a single large space with an dining room area.

The center is open Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight. It is open Friday and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Strikerz Party and Play will be open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Friday from noon to 8 p.m. It is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 8 p.m.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.

greninger@tribstar.com.