January 27, 2014
By Kevin Weedmark
It looks like the town of Moosomin will soon be running the community’s bowling alley.
Two representatives of the Moosomin Bowling Association attended Wednesday’s council meeting to discuss options for the facility, and the town agreed to take over operation of the facility from the committee.
Diana Thorn and Ron Potter spoke on behalf of the bowling association. “We don’t know what we can do anymore,” said Thorn. “Someone has to go chase some business in order to make it viable. We’ve tried a lot of different things and nothing seems to work.
“We’ve tried every possibility,” said Potter. “We’re at the limit of our options.”
“We don’t even have enough volunteers for a full board,” added Thorn.
Built in 1996, the bowling alley is on town-owned land, and the bowling association has paid for the building and equipment.
The bowling association has a liquor licence, which allows it to host Christmas parties which can be profitable because of liquor sales, but which prevents it from hiring high school students to work part-time, leading to a problem staffing the facility.
“It’s Christmas parties that basically float that place,” said Potter. “That’s what brings in the money.”
But Thorn said the lack of employees meant committee members got burned out. “Most of the committee feel we don’t want to keep running it,” she said.
“We would like to see it carry on though,” said Potter. “We have hundreds of thousands of dollars of our labor in there, but it’s all out of passion, and now there’s not much passion left.”
When it started, the bowling alley had league bowling four nights a week and was open for drop-in bowlers on weekends.
Now there is no league bowling, and the bowling alley is rented out for Christmas parties, youth group functions, and children’s birthday parties.
“Christmas is the busy time with Christmas parties, November and December,” Potter said. “I think the leagues could go again if you could get some young people involved.”
Thorn said the group came to council because they want to fold the organization that runs the bowling alley, but don’t want to see the bowling alley disappear.
“We didn’t know what our options were,” she said. “We don’t want to see it fold up.”
Mayor Larry Tomlinson told the delegation the town would be willing to operate the bowling alley, but suggested the bowling association should make an official motion to disband first.
“We should let them meet as a board and make an official decision,” he said.
“We’ll let everyone know that you’re willing to walk in and we’ll walk out and we’ll be back,” Potter said.
Council is expecting to hear back officially from the bowling association at the Feb. 12 meeting.
Rec Director Mike Schwean says he has already given some thought to how the town could operate the bowling alley.
“I would envision I would be the manager and we would hire staff to run it,” says Schwean.
“We would have to revisit that liquor licence—it’s obviously a problem staffing. We have a lot of options for staffing if we don’t have that liquor licence.”
He said he agrees with Potter’s remarks at the council meeting that the league system can be rebuilt by focusing first on youth.
“I think Ron was right—you have to tap into the young guys. I would like to approach the schools, let them use it for free during school hours, and then try to build youth leagues.
“If you can’t get the kids involved you don’t have much hope.
“I see lots of potential, though—if we had the bowling alley open during a hockey tournament, for example, I’m sure you would have kids going over there between games.
“We have to try to get more people involved in bowling—it’s too nice a facility to lose.
“I think the only thing to do is roll our sleeves up and try to run it as a bowling alley—they’ve invested a lot of time and effort into it.”
Schwean says he is looking forward to operating the bowling alley.
“For me it’s kind of exciting,” he says. “I’ve never run a bowling alley. It’s kind of exciting to try my hand at something different.”