Center Issues In League

Posted by: Mkirchie

Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 08:44 AM

Last night of league was interesting, to say the least. The average high temperature where I live in NJ should be 41 this time of year. For those not in the northeast, we've had near record or record highs the last few days; it hit a high of 72 yesterday. The center was packed with our league of 12 lanes of 5 per team, another league with 10 lanes of 4 per team, and a pile of open bowlers on 9 of the 10 remaining lanes. They didn't turn the AC on until nearly halfway through the 2nd game when the heat and humidity got so bad that a lot of bowlers in the leagues were sticking on the approaches and thumbs were hanging. I sort of felt that they should have seen that coming.

Then there's the mechanical issue on our pair. If you didn't strike on the left lane, after picking up the remaining pins and sweeping the deck the machine would not release the pins when they were set back down. Because it held onto them, the machine would then lift them and they would hang above their spots on the pin deck. This happened about 90% of the time on non-strikes. We then had to wait for the mechanic to drop the pins and then reset them manually every time it happened. Since the pins were set manually using the long rod they use to set them, the pins were not always set accurately for the spares. Also, even though we were right in front of the desk, it sometimes still took a while for the mechanic to get to the pair to fix it and it was hard to develop a rhythm.

I have to imagine that they knew about the problem on that lane before we started since it was doing it from the beginning of practice. If they knew, I think that pair should not have been used for league and they should have shifted everyone over one pair. Of course, that would have taken away a pair of open bowlers and we know that they don't want to do that. No sort of apology was made, which is disappointing because on both teams are a few bowlers (me included) who have been bowling there for a very long time. Fortunately, I still shot my average and our team won all 3 games, but sort of needed to vent.

Posted by: 82Boat69

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 09:34 AM

Out of curiosity, when you reported the problem, how did they correct the hanging pins problem?

What kind of machines? AMF? Brunswick? Other?

As the profit margin for bowling becomes smaller and smaller, keeping an inventory of spare parts isn't always practical. As a result, when a failure does occur, they can either shut that lane/pair down or continue to use it until the part arrives.

Most bowling alleys have old equipment. Newer machines have electronics to let maintenance people know when something is beginning to go wrong.

What's really is needed is a system that monitors the machine and when a part shows problems, orders up the new part so it's available when the failure occurs.

Large mainframe computers have this feature. When something begins to show a problem, the computer, independent of humans, will order the part and schedule the CE to be on site at the same time during off-peak hours to make the repair.

I just woke up! Was I dreaming?
Posted by: Mkirchie

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 10:42 AM

They are AMF machines. Model 82-70's, not the really old 82-30's but they are still over 50 years old since they're the original machines from when the center was built in the early 60's. With that said, they should run well if they are maintained properly.

The correction to the problem was to have the mechanic release the hanging pins manually so they crashed down on the lane to make a loud and amusing thud. Then, the mechanic reset the pins manually by hand using the pin fork tool. This procedure was repeated probably 30-40 times during league. Therefore, what actually caused the problem never got fixed.

Posted by: 82Boat69

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 01:00 PM

It's amazing they chose to proceed with all that manual effort.

There's a couple of things that can cause hanging pins on AMF machines. One is an adjustment and the other is replacing part(s).

Either would have taken the offending lane out of service. I'm willing to bet they didn't have the part on hand so taking the machine out of service and moving the teams to a different pair should have been the solution.

Most houses have one extra pair for up to 3 leagues where open play is not allowed. If they've assigned all the lanes, then to move the league players to another pair would have required someone go down and kick the open players off their lanes.

Is the house in question a Bowlmor establishment? We have one here where I live and it's the worst place to bowl. They have the place set up for open-play and leagues are a second priority. Just the opposite of what you would expect. If they have a big group of non-league bowlers coming in, they will tell the leagues they can't bowl that night.
Posted by: Mkirchie

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 02:03 PM

They used to keep an extra pair open on our league night and used to do it between the two leagues. Then again, a few years ago we would fill the whole house. Now, they don't keep a pair open at all. They do keep a 1 lane buffer though next to our league with bowls next to the open bowlers.

The center is not owned by Bowlmor, it is privately owned. Unfortunately, the general consensus is that leagues are becoming second priority there anyway. They haven't gone to the extent of pushing away league bowlers though, which I guess should make me happy.

The amount of energy spent by the mechanic all night made me feel bad for him. It had to be extremely warm/humid back there with the weather and another lane on the pair next to ours was giving frequent ball return problems.

Posted by: 82Boat69

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 05:31 PM

The business model for a sport in decline is much different than it was in its hay-day. I remember when leagues paid a premium to bowl, had to guarantee lineage for 32-36 weeks and if they didn't, they could lose their spot to another league trying to find a place to bowl.

Doesn't make sense to me that houses treat those who like bowling enough to show up every week worse than those who may show up 1 or 2 times a month. Open play has never been a money-maker.

We have a place in town called Country Club Lanes. They charge $20 per person per half hour for open play. It's a 40 lane house that on a regular basis has more people employed than bowling.

I don't understand how they stay in business. On Friday and Saturday nights they get a huge crowd of young people, but can you run a bowling alley like a night club?
Posted by: goobee

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 05:41 PM

In our 40 lanes house, our Saturday morning league takes the first 32, the rest go to juniors. There are no extra pairs. When things go wrong (and they do weekly) we have to sit and wait however long it takes. One time, two teams had to bowl make up because they couldn't fix the issue.

Just this AM, the left lane didn't work right the entire 10 minutes of shadow practice for us. It continue to plague us during the games. This is a Brunswick house and we didn't start seeing these problem until Bowlmor took over.
Posted by: Dennis Michael

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 06:47 PM

Our contract has a provision for buffer lanes. Its a pair between two leagues. And, used for any down lane troubles.

I have bowled in a 20 lane house with 20 teams in league. When a lane went down, both teams alternated on the one good lane. The scorer was set to have one team bowl at a time.

If another pair opened early, they had an option to move.
Posted by: Mkirchie

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 07:00 PM

We used to have that buffer, I'm not sure if it was in a contract between one of the two leagues that bowl on Fridays and the center or if it was done as a courtesy for the leagues. There's no chance of that ever coming back, we tried to go from a 5 to a 4 person league a year ago due to the decline in the # of bowlers in the league. The center shot it down because we would then use up more pairs for league leaving less for open bowling.

Posted by: 82Boat69

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 07:34 PM

Sounds like a sad state of affairs.

I'm fortunate to bowl in a house owned by a bowler. Steve Cook's Fireside Lanes are not that spectacular, but the place is run for the bowlers.
Posted by: Dennis Michael

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/25/17 09:02 PM

here, only the Brunswick houses had less then 5 man teams. All other houses had 5 man.

Our thurs has 38 teams in a 40 lane house. owner (private) says he always keeps 2 lanes open.

And, he has diff philosophy about leagues. He says, he may lose money on the Holidays when he can offer open bowling. But, the leagues keep him going in Fall and Spring. I think, league bowlers drink more too.

Our Summer league on Wed, is limited to 38 teams as well. But, 4-man.
Posted by: 82Boat69

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/26/17 02:12 AM

When I lived in Wisconsin, bowling was a big deal year around. Here in CA, not so much. During summer it really slows down.

I bowl 3 days a week rain or shine. Two days of practice and one league. I have a bunch of cronies I practice with. We usually have 5-7 guys on 2 lanes.

On Mondays we're limited to a few lanes but on Fridays we have the whole house to choose from as long as we get there by 9 AM. By 9:30 it's reservation time.

Friday mornings are the only time there's lanes for open play. The rest of the week it's stacked up 3 leagues deep.

75 cents per game for seniors who bowl a league is the best deal in town. Last year it was just 50 cents.
Posted by: Mkirchie

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/26/17 07:56 AM

The center does get high traffic for open bowling because it is the only center in the county. Because of this, they're the closest center for almost everyone who lives in the county. Additionally, there are very few nearby options in the county for entertainment so the open bowling in the evening tends to be popular among families and high school students who can drive. There's almost always a wait for open bowlers who show up on our league night.

Posted by: 82Boat69

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/26/17 09:35 AM

We also have HS kids who come in and bowl each morning before they open. I think they come in at 8, bowl until 9 then go to school. It's their PE requirement. There's no instruction or requirements. I guess they just burn off energy. I don't know IL that well. I would have thought there would have been a Quonset Hut bowling alley in every small town :-) Lots of those in Michigan. 8 - 12 lanes.
Posted by: Dennis Michael

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/26/17 10:48 AM

We have a bunch of small towns in our Association. And, every small town has a Bowling alley. They offer very little else other then bowling. Most don't even have music. which seems to be a must to the chains.

I can think of 2 that offer Cosmic. One being the newest center. But it has a split. 24 bowling lanes, and beyond a solid wall, another 8 that can be used for cosmic bowling.

Another Center actually sits on the dividing border with the next county. It was decided to put it onto our Association, because the Main Office was in our County. The actual lanes were not.

But, all are bowler friendly. Offering discounts to league bowlers. One has 3 free games per day, and many others offer $1 games to league bowlers.

The second Center I bowl at promotes practice. To the point that they say, "call ahead, and we'll oil 2 lanes."

Most of these centers have limited availability on weekends, due to open bowlers. But, most week days and nights are open.

Being on the Ill/Wisc border, there are bowlers on both sides using these lanes.
Posted by: Mkirchie

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/26/17 12:32 PM

It's interesting to see/hear about how organized bowling is different in other areas. Our local association covers 3 counties with a total population of around 700,000 and only has 8 centers for a total of 174 lanes. Almost every center in the association has cosmic bowling. The center where my league is started doing live concerts with local bands on some Saturday nights using a stage that they set up in the middle of the center.

$1 for league bowlers, 3 free games per day? Wow, that's unheard of here. Where I bowl league bowlers get $1 off and that's it, which is the normal around here as far as I know. The best time for me to practice is Sunday mornings. $2.75 per game which turns into $1.75 per game with the discount. Open bowling around here in the evenings and weekends will run around 5 to 6 dollars a game for a regular center with leagues. One older center that turned themselves into a boutique with no leagues center charges $8 per game.

Posted by: 82Boat69

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/26/17 02:40 PM

We get as many 75 cent games as we can throw whenever lanes are available.

It also applies to our senior scratch league. We pay $18, with $3 going to bowling, 25 cents to have the lanes done before league, 75 cents to our secretary and the rest goes into the prize fund.
Posted by: Dennis Michael

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/27/17 01:37 PM

82Boat69, now, that's a good deal.

When I retired, I ended up working part time for a chain of centers. Ended up Assistant Mgr of another center in that chain. When there, I analyzed the cost of oiling lanes. Given the fact that the machine was paid for and the laneman was sunk cost, as he had to be there. The real direct cost of lane oiling was only $.25 per lane. I repeated this at another center, privately owned. The cost there was $.26 per lane.

I cringe when our house gives us another lineage increase. We pay the house $12.50 per man for Monday League. It's higher then it is for Open Bowling 3 games. Thurs at another house, lineage is $9.50.

All of you should get a League Financial statement or Budget which spells out that cost.

This Chain House has a Sunday Morning Practice League. $10 for bowling and you get (3) 3 game passes to use during the week.
Posted by: Mkirchie

Re: Center Issues In League - 02/27/17 02:12 PM

Our lineage is in our bylaws, but I don't have a copy handy. I believe it's around 11-12 dollars, which is cheaper than the $5 per game they charge for open bowling. It technically ends up around the same with the 1$ discount they give to league bowlers. We put in $20 per person each night with the balance after lineage being split among officers and the prize fund.

The deal that 82Boat69 gets is amazing considering what "deals" we get.

Posted by: Dennis Michael

Re: Center Issues In League - 03/01/17 10:35 AM

I'm convinced, lineage is arbitrary, as to what the league can afford.
Monday Mens: Fee is $25 and lineage is $12.50
Thurs Open, over 185 avg: Fee is $20 and Lineage is $10.50
Sunday Practice league: Fee is $10 and you get (3) 3-game passes
Sat couples: Fee is $22 and lineage is $11.50

My other House,
Thurs Open, over 185 avg: Fee is $22 and lineage is $9.50

My Monday from last year, (this house also pays sanction fees for league bowlers)
Fee was $20 and lineage was $9.50

It's obvious that a bowler can shop for the best price to bowl league, and also get the highest amount of his payment into the prize fund.

There is very little difference in house costs per league. but, it's obvious, a 5-man team returns more to the house then a 3-man team does, with the same cost to the Center.

In the competitive leagues here, the league that has the highest prize fund is getting more of the better bowlers. And, the House benefits from more bowlers