Changes in bowling center enhance gaming experience
Among one of the most successful on campus, the bowling center in the Games Room has set itself apart by having a committed staff run the section as well as keeping it current.
Since its reopening, the popular hub has undergone some changes that have modified the way students spend their free time on campus.
“Where a lot of other student centers went wrong was that they could build a bowling center, hire one person to run it, maybe a couple students, and bingo, it would just go,” said Bill Schwehr, Assistant Director of Student Center Leisure Services.
“You need a full time mechanic, some other support staff during the evening that’s on the professional level that we employ, and I’ve said that we’ve been fortunate to receive that support and some renovation dollars now and then when it’s needed to keep it current.”
“(The) bowling industry is changing, and has changed quite a bit over these last 10 years.”
Even with all of the changes in the past few years, the bowling center isn’t finished. Visitors can expect more changes that will enhance the experience. Currently, the bowling center offers glow bowling on Friday and Saturday nights, and is looking for new ways to revitalize the bowling experience.
One of those ways includes reinvesting in the sound and light system, Schwehr says.
“(We are putting) some large projection screens at the end of the lanes, every four lanes,” Schwehr said. “So they will be 60-80 foot screens where you can show UH football, UH basketball, something else if we wish to…we are going to bring more modern lighting, effect lighting and redo the sound system, and that should be done by mid-summer.”
With its unique look and feel, significant effort has gone into making this area something special, just for UH.
“It’s a nice new area, and it’s cool to hang out there since everyone wants to be Cougar proud,” said Keith Kowalka, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. “We really tried to make a strong connection to school pride and spirit… As a a university, we have tried to build more on campus housing, (so) we have to continue to keep (doing) things that engage students.”
As a result of these new additions, the bowling center has become more popular; 2012 saw 73,000 games bowled, whereas in the just first six months of 2014 saw 66,000, putting the bowling center on track for 100,000 games per year.
“I think one of the other positive benefits from the (bowling) center being so popular is that we have special reservations that are utilized in the center, whether it is by lane or by area or by rental of the whole facility,” said Cheryl Grew-Gillen, Director of Student Center Facilities and Operations.
“We have had quite an attraction of birthday parties, community events, department events, student events, (and) those reservations have seen an increase since we have opened in January 2014.”
Despite the increase usage of the facility, one key aspect has yet to change: the price to play. The bowling center has kept the price of $1.75 for students consistent since 2008. Sales figures in 2012, the last full year of operation, were $289,000. Sales figures have gone up by $48,000 in the last 12 months.
“If students want to do something that is inexpensive on campus. It’s a great place to get a lot of fun time and not spend a lot of money,” Kowalka said.