Owners of bowling centers feel like they have been left in the gutter in New York. In 44 other states, bowling centers have been allowed to reopen following guidelines.
Bowling center operators say they have been prepped and ready to open for a while, but bowling seems overlooked or stigmatized.
“It matters to people. Bowling matters, the things we do here matters. It’s a community, it helps the economy. Bowling is one of those things you don’t think about until you need it,” said Bobby Downing, manager at Crystal Lanes in Corning.
They feel a loss in their communities from being closed so long.
In Elmira, Michelle D’Angelo owns Southport Dixie Lanes with her husband. They say their place is like a second home for their town.
“Really a family center. Their grandfathers have bowled here, their grandmothers, great grandmothers, their children, now their children’s children. And it’s just a really fun place to be around,” said D’Angelo.
Owners are taking a number of cleaning and health precautions despite having zero guidance from New York state.
Some bowling enthusiasts even own their own equipment, reducing risk.
“They all have their own bowling balls. They all have their own shoes. Families that come in to open bowl, that use our house calls and house shoes we sanitize them,” said Scott McLaughlin, owner at Lucky Strike Lanes in Malone.
Beckie Ripic, owner at Ripic Carousel Lanes in Binghamton, told us they have spent a lot trying to be safe before they even know what is required.
“We’ve installed sixteen hand sanitizers. We’ve done HEPA filters. We bought ionizers,” said Ripic.
Most of the 300 bowling alleys in New York are family-run businesses.
Fall bowling leagues sustain these businesses year-after-year and they’re concerned what the impact will be if they don’t have those leagues.
“There’s going to be a serious problem with small businesses here in New York state with bowling centers,” McLaughlin said.
D’Angelo says her four children have offered financial support to her and her husband but adds, “You can only go so many months without an income.”
The financial losses from closed lanes are staggering.
McLaughlin says the totals are “well in excess of six figures for probably every bowling center that is in New York state.”
Some bowling alley’s fate is already sealed.
The owners hang in there and continue to push to be allowed to re-open.
“I would just like to know what facts, stats, and data that he’s received that says bowling alleys are deemed so unsafe that we cannot be given the opportunity to open,” said Beckie Ripic.
“Let us open Governor Cuomo. Our motto is: We’re safe, sanitized, and ready to roll,” said Scott McLaughlin.