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For bowling alleys, time is running out

July 31, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Dozens of bowling alley owners gathered at Kingpin's Alley Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls to call on the state to issue reopening guidelines for the 300 bowling alleys

SOUTH GLENS FALLS — After 137 days, bowling alley operators on Friday said their facilities are safe, clean and ready to roll, but their businesses are in danger of falling into the gutter because the state has yet to provide guidelines on how they can reopen. About 300 bowling alley operators statewide have been without income for more than four months and are in danger of missing out on essential revenue from fall leagues, said Doug Bohannon, the owner of Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls and the president of the New York State Bowling Proprietors Association. “We’re worried and we’re scared,” he said at a press conference inside his 42-lane business, where more than two dozen other owners from across the state had gathered to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow bowling centers to open. State Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, were also in attendance. Risking a permanent closureThe fall league season attracts hundreds of bowlers to centers like Kingpin’s across the state, accounting for thousands in revenue.

Without that income, Bohannon said, dozens of alleys across the state are in danger of closing their doors permanently. Two bowling alleys in the state closed in the last 10 days because of the shutdown, he said. Several local bowling alleys, including Broadway Lanes in Fort Edward and Slate Valley Lanes in Granville, are also in danger of closing their doors for good. “Each day that passes, we run the risk of losing more of these bowling centers,” Bohannon said. The more than two dozen owners who gathered on Friday — some from as far as Binghamton and Oswego — said they were confused as to why the state won’t give them guidance on reopening. Balls rolling elsewhereBowling alleys in New Jersey and Connecticut have been operating for weeks.

We understand that some people aren’t happy — but better unhappy than sick or worse,” Jason Conwall, the Cuomo spokesman, said in a statement. Bohannon argues that bowling centers can open safely and said the Proprietors Association has submitted a 23-page proposal to the state that addresses everything from social distancing to the disinfecting of shared equipment. He said if bowling alleys close, not only would local economies suffer, but communities would lose a vital hub, where everything from birthday parties to fundraisers are hosted. Junior bowlers also earn thousands in scholarships. “The majority of bowling centers are owned by families, many of them are second- and third-generation operators that have served their communities for years,” he said. Economic impactBowling alleys in New York employ more than 9,000 people, according to Jordan. Since being forced to close on March 17, the centers have lost a combined $90 million in revenue, and employees have lost over $30 million in wages, she said. Jordan said bowling centers are a “vital part” of the state’s economy and play a critical role in the communities they serve. She said operators across New York have already put in place safety protocols, but they need the state to tell them what, if any, additional steps need to be taken. “We do have to protect lives, but we also need to safeguard livelihoods,” Jordan said. Woerner had similar sentiments, saying that bowling alleys are safe places where families can spend quality time together during the pandemic. “It’s time for the governor to get to work, draft the guidelines and provide the direction for how bowling centers can reopen,” she said. Plans take shapeMeanwhile, inside Kingpin’s, signs reminding visitors to maintain social distancing were spotted throughout the center.

Plexiglass surrounds the counter, and sanitation stations were set up throughout the building. Bohannon said there are 11-and-a-half feet between each set of lanes, more than enough space to maintain social distancing if bowlers use every other lane. The center has bought disposable slip covers that go over shoes to allow people to bowl without renting shoes, and there are plans in place to disinfect every ball after use. The Proprietor Association, last month, submitted at 23-page safety plan that would require everything from temperature checks to daily cleaning, but has not heard anything from state officials regarding the plan. “During this entire month, we’ve heard nothing from Albany as to when we can get back to making a living,” Bohannon saidLocal impactSean and Brandon Bickford have operated Broadway Lanes in Fort Edward and Slate Valley Lanes in Granville for the last 25 years with their father, John. They said both centers are in danger of closing because of the loss in revenue created by the shutdown.

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