Lexington bowlers now have one pin left standing.
Danny Collins, the president of Collins Bowling Centers Inc., announced Sunday that Eastland Lanes will close June 1, leaving one bowling alley left in Lexington. Joyland Bowling closed in January, Collins said.
“Over the past several years we’ve operated Eastland at a loss and have determined it necessary to close Eastland Lanes,” Collins wrote in a blog post on the company’s website. “Many customers like you supported our business and we appreciate it! Believe me, this decision has been one we’ve really tried to avoid. However, because of the increasing costs and maintenance, we had to reach this final decision.”
To get Eastland up and running well, they needed to repave the parking lot and buy all new computers for scorekeeping, Collins said. It was going to run at least $500,000.
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With the closing of Eastland, Lexington’s last alley is Collins’ Southland . All Eastland employees will be considered for employment at Southland, Collins said. His grandfather Frank Collins started the company in 1959 Springfield, Ohio. The company owned movie theaters, about 40 in total.
“Bowling in 1960 was getting real, real popular. They were building all of these bowling centers,” Collins said in an interview Monday night. “They saw the opportunity and the market was really good for it. The customers poured in.”
Back then, the alleys also had women’s leagues that offered a free day care for moms, Collins said.
Eastland manager Jason Uchwal, who has been in the position the past six years, is moving to Strike and Spare in Louisville but will continue part-time at Eastland until June 1. Uchwal was instrumental in continuing The Bradley Tournament, which started in 1978.
“I want to thank the local bowling association members, and so many people who have used Eastland for their bowling events over the course of our long history,” Collins said. “Our commitment to providing you, the customer, the best service, equipment and conditions will always be our top priority, ensuring you will continue to enjoy this great recreational sport.”
American bowling alleys have been on a dramatic decline since 1998. Between 1998 and 2012, nearly 1,500 alleys crashed into the gutter, Bloomberg reported. Bowling’s heyday was from 1945 to 1957, when 20,000 lanes were built, the Detroit Free Press reported.