Back in 1959, a $500,000 Airport Bowl opened its doors in Wilmington.
Sixty years later, Royal Z Lanes is undergoing a massive makeover that will nearly match the original purchase price.
“There’s only so much you can do on a 1959 building but we’re doing it,” said Shane Ison, general manager at Royal Z Lanes. “It’s (money spent) really close to that ($500,000).”
According to Ison, Royal Z owner Jim Zavakos “didn’t have to” re-invest the money into the current facility.
“But he said it was time for a change for our customers,” Ison said.
For non-bowlers, the changes are numerous. New flooring in the bowling area, new carpet on the concourse, fresh coat of paint inside and out, new air conditioning and a game room in the old bar area.
Bowlers will have access to a new pro shop and new synthetic lanes which will be dressed with a refurbished lane machine. The automatic scoring system has new keypads at each set of lanes as well as a software update.
Ison started at Royal Z Lanes in 2001 and the sport has undergone business-altering changes — both on and off the lanes — since that time.
“With the smoking ban in 2007, families started to come back to bowling,” he said. “It’s more of an inviting place (for families) now.”
The bar — for years Uncle Louie’s Lounge — is gone. A game room has taken its place.
“Instead of a bar scene, this is a family scene,” Ison said. “We still serve alcohol but it’s more of a family entertainment center.”
The new lanes will give bowlers a more consistent shot, one that’s easier to score with, Ison notes. The previous wood lanes were not uniform, not just from lane to lane but from board to board among the 37 that make up a lane.
The synthetic lanes are Brunswick Pro Lanes, the newest lanes made by the bowling giant. Ison said the Wilmington facility was the last bowling center in the Dayton Bowling Association to use wood lanes.
“The playing field is level and will stay level for the next 60 years,” he said. “Every lane is exactly the same. The wood lanes were made of maple and pine and you didn’t have the consistency from lane to lane.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports