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Bowling club not spared

BY GRACE PATERAS | FEBRUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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Two failed alcohol compliance checks in the past year at Colonial Lanes may put the University of Iowa Bowling Club in the gutter.

The two citations caused Iowa City officials to revoke the establishment’s exception from the 21-ordinance until 2019 at a minimum. The exemption was granted because more than 50 percent of its sales do not come from alcohol.

Colonial Lanes, 2253 Old Highway 218 S., is the only bowling alley in Iowa City.

The bowling club has used its lanes for practice for six or seven years, said club adviser Franklin Rabe. Because of some conflicts with other bowling leagues, Colonial Lanes offers the university club a time slot at 9 p.m. on Sundays, which doesn’t leave much time for the club to get practice in.

“We can’t force [players] to stay, and we can’t force them to leave, because they pay for their own lanes,” said sophomore Lauren Lange, a member of the club. “To try to time our games so they will end at 10 p.m. just doesn’t happen.”

The club includes approximately 20 students, and only four of them are of legal drinking age. Being a school club, members never partook in drinking during their practices.

“My main argument is a bowling alley is supposed to be a safe place to go,” Rabe said. “I feel the 21-ordinance is supposed to keep the underage people out of the bar.”

In addition, he doesn’t see the bowling alley in the same category as a bar.

“The city’s all about having other things to do besides just going downtown, and the bowling alley is one of those places they can go that I feel is an alternative to going downtown and to the bars,” he said.

The club pays for each of its games, and a typical practice for the bowlers is two or three games in a few lanes. If their game runs  past 10 p.m., members must choose to leave and waste their money and practice time, or continue on and risk getting kicked out and ticketed by Iowa City police.

“[The ordinance is] another thing that is discouraging us from practicing,” Lange said. “It’s hard to get everyone to practice every week because it’s so far from campus.”

In addition, the bowling club has grown over the past years. In addition to more team members, it has also joined many tournaments against other Midwestern schools, mostly in Wisconsin.

“I don’t want it to affect our membership,” Lange said. “We’re progressing with members and the organization. I’d like to keep going in the direction we’re going.”

Iowa City Assistant City Attorney Eric Goers said the bowling alley lost its non-bar acceptance certificate for two failures in serving alcohol to underage persons.

Colonial Lanes may reapply for the exemption in 2019 and could go back to being exempted from the 21-ordinance on Feb. 27, 2019.

“We wish we weren’t in a position to have to revoke Colonial Lanes’ exception certificate,” Goers wrote in an email. “But the grounds for the revocation of their exemption certificate were explicitly listed in the ordinance, and we have to enforce the law evenly.”

An option for the alley to provide business to underage customers past 10 p.m. is to get rid of its current liquor license and halt alcohol sales completely, he said.

Goers said Colonial Lanes could also host an alcohol-free night, in which employees would remove all alcohol out of sight and reach and notify the Iowa City police chief.

However, Colonial Lanes owner Brad Huff said bowling and beer go hand-in-hand. The business has found from previous nonalcoholic events that no alcohol means fewer customers, he said.

“We had a period of time where we needed to close the bar, and we had almost no bowling,” Huff said. “We live in a system where everything helps. We don’t have the option of going in and cutting things apart.”

Huff said he can offer afternoon times for the club to practice; however, the slots are at inconvenient times for both the club members and the business.

Rabe hopes an agreement can be made among the city, police, and bowling alley to allow the club to stay past 10 p.m., excluding them from the ordinance.

“It’s upsetting that the UI approves our practices and to be [at Colonial Lanes], but we risk getting caught and risk getting ticketed for a university practice,” said junior bowler Matt Salzburg. “We shouldn’t have to deal with facing a penalty with the law for having a university practice.”


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