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Room in this town for two kingpins?

BY MITCH SMITH | NOVEMBER 11, 2009 7:20 AM

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Colonial Lanes has been a staple in Iowa City since 1959, but talk of a new bowling alley at the university might strike up some competition among the alley cats.

UI officials are considering rebuilding the once-hallowed lanes that graced the basement of the IMU from 1955 to 1988, giving students the opportunity to pursue a new activity on campus.

“That would be a great thing to have on campus,” intramural Associate Director Mike Widen said. “We need more activities like that.”

If the bowling alley is constructed in the IMU, the other local bowling alley known for its comedic commercials, featuring Rodger Lutsky, could see a decline in business.

“I would say a substantial amount of business comes from university students,” said Brad Huff, the owner of Colonial Lanes since 1995. “I’ll put it this way: When the kids go home for Christmas or Thanksgiving break, we notice a definite drop in bowlers.”

Colonial Lanes hosts not only individual students looking for a fun night on the lanes, Huff said, but many other university events, including the intramural bowling tournament, fraternity and sorority events, and various UI departmental parties and outings. It is also the practice site for the Iowa club bowling team.

Despite all of the business from university and student participation that Colonial Lanes brings in already, Huff said he would like to see even more.

“What I’d like to do is facilitate some type of agreement with the university,” Huff said. “We’d love to host bowling physical education classes through the university. We’ll definitely listen if they would like to sit down and talk with us about that.”

Most of these groups would more than likely follow Widen’s lead and relocate to on campus if university officials follow through with the idea of the IMU bowling alley.

“Obviously, we would move our bowling tournament to on campus,” Widen said. “The problem of transportation becomes a nonissue if we have a bowling alley on campus.”

Many of the bowlers at the Recreational Services intramural tournament also said they would welcome the idea of the IMU bowling alley, citing the close proximity to campus and having a new activity to participate in as the primary reasons.

But the management at Colonial Lanes is skeptical about a new bowling alley being successful.

“I understand that [the university] is trying to come up with some alternative activities on campus, but this is not something that you are going to build where you can just flip a switch and be successful,” Huff said. “It requires a lot of maintenance. They tried the bowling alley at the Iowa Memorial Union many years ago, and I don’t think they realized how much it takes to keep it going.”


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