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Students start petition to reopen bowling alley underneath Eastway Dining Hall

Andrew Bowie
Beneath Eastway Dining Hall, furniture and equipment sits within the bowling alley on Oct. 30, 2023.

Though it is commonly missed, there is a bowling alley next to the Eastway Distribution Center underneath the dining hall. 

The bowling alley was closed in the summer of 2019 for renovations, which were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eventually, the decision was made to permanently close the alley since it failed to turn a profit from 2016-2019, according to Jill Jenkins, senior executive director of University Housing and Culinary Services. 

Andrew Castillo, a sophomore music education major, created a petition to gauge student interest about reopening the bowling alley. He has been working with the Kent State Bowling club teams and the university to see what it would take to reopen the space.

“I contacted the president of the mens and womens bowling team and we are working on getting a meeting together,” Castillo said. 

Bowling lanes remain dormant within the Eastway Dining Hall on Oct. 30, 2023. (Andrew Bowie)

Castillo said he’s connected with bowling for most of his life and it really helped him with socializing. 

“Previously in high school, I was on the varsity bowling team, and it was the best time of my life — I connected with the team really well,” Castillo said. “I believe that reopening this bowling alley would not only create more student connections and improve student life, but it would make new opportunities for those who may not have had access to bowling in their life.”

Allison Greco, a senior psychology major and vice president of the women’s bowling team, heard students talking about the petition. She said being able to practice on campus would be beneficial for their team. 

“For a lot of our girls, transportation is hard, a lot of them don’t have cars or park at Dix Stadium,” Greco said. “I think it would be helpful, it would be more efficient for a lot of our bowlers that live on campus. It might be nice to have that student atmosphere on campus.”  

The women’s club bowling team is relatively new, only splitting from a co-ed team last January. Greco said being on campus would help with gaining members. 

“I’m hoping us being more on campus will increase our likelihood of people seeing us and as a result, more people will join the club,” Greco said

Sydney Burns, a junior English major and president of the women’s bowling team, said she is interested in the popularity it would give the emerging club teams. 

“We’ve had a lot of new women come in this year,” Burns said. “A lot of women, even when we were a co-ed sport, asking if we were actually doing practices and if we were a team. I feel like if we were in Eastway it would be a lot more convenient getting out there.”

Burns said she was really excited to go to a school with a bowling alley, but it was closed before she moved in.

A look behind the lanes of the bowling alley located in the Eastway Dining Hall on Oct. 30, 2023. (Andrew Bowie)

“Obviously the sport of bowling goes up and down every year,” Burns said. “I think a lot more involvement with students would be helpful — and school involvement, we’re a club sport but it’s good to keep it in the university.”

The bowling alley sits in Eastway, which means it is owned by University Housing and Culinary Services. 

Jenkins said the university hasn’t seriously revisited the issue since it was closed. 

“It comes up each year when students ask about it, but we haven’t had offices or departments bring it up to us to bring it back,” Jenkins said. 

She said the lack of use is what closed the bowling alley. 

“I’ve heard that it wasn’t very trafficked,” Jenkins said. “Bowling is probably like anything where it goes in and out of popularity.” 

A big problem with the bowling alley is the old and outdated equipment. The university would need a guaranteed source of income apart from students to reopen it, Jenkins said.

“We know successful programs like this are typically tied to a [sport],” Jenkins said. “We’d probably need to rely on partnerships like that because it wasn’t profitable in the past.” 

While the facility would be run by housing, Jenkins said it would take cooperation with other departments and sports to really make it work. 

“I think the teams would make a big difference because that’s a sure audience,” she said. 

Gary Goldberg, the senior vice president for Student Engagement and Services, said his department and others would have to assist in any attempts to successfully reopen the bowling alley. 

“I think in order for it to be successful, it has to be a collaborative approach, meaning it would be operated by recreational sports,” Goldberg said. “Maybe it would be with a team, maybe it would be in partnership with academics to create a class for one credit.” 

Goldberg said since the bowling alley is in a facility operated by university housing, it might be a challenge for them to manage. 

“It sits in a housing facility, which is fine, but it’s not a regular thing for housing people to run,” Goldberg said. “It’s not really their business, not that they couldn’t.” 

He suggested a new bowling alley could be student run, apart from technical aspects. 

“We’ve never really studied, that I know of, to see what it would cost to bring the bowling center back to life,” Goldberg said. “There’s been a few conversations in my four years here, there’s been no grassroots efforts to bring it back.” 

Goldberg said the petition is a good way to gauge interest. 

“I’m not uncomfortable or intimidated with the prospect of looking at the bowling center,” Goldberg said. “I’m not ruling anything out, I think it’s an interesting proposition. I think it was closed due to lack of interest and lack of proper management.”

He said the best way for students to help is by signing the petition to show interest. 

“Nothing’s impossible, nothing takes forever,” Goldberg said. “Probably a good place to start would be to see what the interest level is with the current student community.”

Andrew Bowie is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Andrew Bowie, Reporter
Andrew is a general assistant reporter at KentWired and a second-year Communication Studies major. He hopes to improve his writing skills here and deepen his understanding and connection with writing. He likes learning about people, and he always finds himself so impressed at all the things people can do – which is why he enjoys writing about them. "Ask me stuff, ask me to do stuff, ask me for help even though I don't know much yet. I'll probably say yes!" he says. Contact him at [email protected]

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  • M

    MarieNov 13, 2023 at 4:21 pm

    Why does it have to be profitable to be open? Is the rec center, which is free for students and faculty, turning a profit? I doubt it. I mean, ideally it would be nice to be self sustaining. But that isn’t the only criteria.

    Perhaps if they could get outside funding to cover the costs of the new equipment? Then there\’s just the operating fees, which would be at least partly covered by the users (though it would be awesome if it was free for the students).

  • D

    DianeNov 4, 2023 at 1:50 pm

    They should reopen it. Even though I didn’t go there for school. But went there with friends. We had a great time. I think there would be a great turn out there. A nd they would make a great revenue from it. Give the students and public a place to go and make new friends.