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Question of the day

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association President Bill Brennan

With the State of Illinois poised to enter Phase 4 of the Governor’s “Restore Illinois” plan, 270 bowling centers, most whom are members of the Illinois Bowling Proprietors’ Association, are extremely excited to open their doors for business. These mostly-independent small businesses have gone to great lengths during the 100 days of the stay-at-home order, preparing their staff and facilities to be the safest destinations for recreation throughout Illinois. Online education, in-person staff training, the purchase of PPE, installation of barriers, and the development of a comprehensive list of best practices and procedures are just a few of the steps centers have taken that make them confident in safeguarding everyone who comes to the lanes

Unfortunately, with the news that bowling centers would be restricted to the extremely limited number of 50 guests in our facilities, many centers are now determining if reopening is even an option. Small to larger centers all share the traits of having large areas to facilitate social distancing, and these facilities have never been better equipped to clean and sanitize high-traffic touch points. Even before the stay-at-home order, the ISBPA’s members had evolved their operations to prevent the transmission of the virus, including Limiting group size, voluntarily reducing capacity, discouraging spectators, and the thorough cleaning and sanitizing of all shared equipment and spaces.

It’s really disheartening that the State of Illinois doesn’t believe that the bowling centers can reopen at a safe 50 percent of our granted capacity with the even heightened awareness and emphasis of safety and cleanliness. The fact that casinos, fitness clubs, gyms, indoor recreation facilities, and other similar location-based industries can open at this percentage of capacity bewilders the bowling community’s business owners. Expecting facilities that have tens of thousands of square feet to even pay their overhead with a maximum of 50 guests is preposterous. What’s worse is throughout the shutdown, numerous phone and camera calls were made in helping shape what Phase 4 looked like for bowling in Illinois. All in attendance knew our emphasis and expectations of safety and sanitation, and all regarded the granting of 50 percent capacity in our centers was a safe and business sound compromise.

* I asked about the viral load issue…

We have centers in membership that range in 4 lanes to 84 lanes. 50 people inside these facilities would look drastically different. Our centers are large enough that if we were granted 50 percent capacity we could responsibly distance groups of customers from each other. The fact that casinos and fitness centers, which have many more high traffic areas and touch points, and are allowed a 50 percent capacity and we are not isn’t logical.

He also sent the guidelines that were distributed to owners. Click here.

* The Question: Should bowling centers be granted the same 50 percent capacity limits as casinos? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


bike trails

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments »
  1. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:31 am:

    What’s the capacity limit? Half of what the Fire Marshall says?

    That’s a lot of people and a bowling alley will still look packed. Do they mean only allowing to operate half of their lanes? Like — one group of bowlers per ball return? That might be okay. No more than 4 people assigned to a ball return? That might be okay.

    But when we start talking about 50% of capacity, I have a feeling they mean “business as usual.”

    Are they bringing back the league nights? Socially distancing during a league night would be almost impossible at any bowling alley I’ve seen league night.

    This is a giant moral hazard for the owners of bowling alleys, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, etc.

    If we listen to these business associations we might as well make our goal “Texas by August.”


  2. - NotRich - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    DCEO and Bain & Company did the same thing to the movie theatre owners. Multiple discussions, about being able to safely open based on size and square footage. Bowling and movie theaters were blindsided by the Gov’s guidelines, yet casinos get what they want with 50 PERCENT not 50 people..


  3. - Contrarian - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    The problem is when you send out nonsensical regulations, with big loopholes for similarly situate others, makes people stop paying attention altogether.


  4. - Frank talks - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:37 am:

    Bowling alleys I would say are more spread out than restaurants. If they put partitions between the seating areas they can easily socially distance in the facility. Plus go every other lane would make sense.
    If casinos can open these alley’s should be able to open as well.

    No sharing of ball returns, disinfecting lane tables after usage, electronic scoring only, stay in your designated lane area, wait staff only bringing food and drink to lanes, disinfectant and wipes by ball racks for ball choice, mask inside building except when at your lane, etc etc.

    It can all be done, just safely and with restrictions similar to everyone else.


  5. - Cheryl 44 - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:37 am:

    I voted no because I think casinos should have more restrictions.


  6. - Pundent - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:38 am:

    Voted no. But that’s largely due to seeing the casino and fitness center rules as too lax. We’ve seen the spikes in CA, AZ, FL and other states. Reopening only to have to close will only prolong our ability to control the virus.


  7. - phocion - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:41 am:

    Voted yes. The Pritzker administration appears to be lax on their rules when it comes to the well-connected or hyper-tax revenue generators. Or they are overly rigid for those without clout.


  8. - Bob Loblaw - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:42 am:

    Voted No. The businesses just want to get that camel’s nose under the tent, and none of these rules mean anything without enforcement. Just driving around, it’s clear many businesses are open, doing whatever they want without fear of consequence


  9. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:45 am:

    Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.


  10. - Nuke the Whales - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:46 am:

    ==If we listen to these business associations we might as well make our goal “Texas by August.”==
    I love this and would like to steal it.

    To my “no” vote. The amount of sitting one does at a restaurant or even a casino versus the amount of moving around one does at a bowling alley, banquet hall, other group complaining about 50 people as the rules were for months ahead of Phase 4, etc.

    Plus, with casinos, the amount of control the state has to enforce such rules and the amount of social buy-in would be substantially greater than a bowling alley.

    Finally, I don’t believe that many of the “we can re-open if we do X, Y, and Z,” have any intention of doing those things.


  11. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:49 am:

    Humans have a long history of doing nearly everything wrong during periods of uncertainty…doing it again won’t work…again.


  12. - A Guy - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:50 am:

    Anything that cuts the noise of a bowling alley in half would be fine with me.


  13. - AndyIllini - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:51 am:

    Voted yes, largely because of the “same as the casinos” part of the question. It would seem strange to me to grant to be more lenient on a casino than a local bowling alley.


  14. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:54 am:

    ===The problem is when you send out nonsensical regulations===

    You’re assuming they’re going to follow whatever regulations are made. What they’re looking for is something that will mitigate any liability for which they may be on on the hook.

    “Patrons weren’t wearing masks” is a different claim than “Theater knowingly sold more seats than were permitted.”

    They can blame their victims for mask issues, etc. They can’t blame the victims for capacities, and our local authorities have decided to do nothing regarding public health in our communities.


  15. - Wylie Coyote - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:54 am:

    Sounds like the bowling centers better start writing some checks like the casino folks.


  16. - dbk - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:57 am:

    I don’t agree with casinos or fitness centers reopening, so by logical extension I don’t agree with bowling alleys reopening either.

    Cf. -If we listen to these business associations we might as well make our goal “Texas by August.” -

    Yep, that’s what will happen. And if that happens, then K-12 schools can bid the in-person school year good-bye before it starts up.


  17. - Annonin' - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:01 pm:

    We are ready for some bowlin’ in IL long overdue


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:02 pm:

    I voted yes…

    … if the public abides.


  19. - Flapdoodle - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:10 pm:

    OW — nicely done


  20. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:15 pm:

    I’m just astounded they have an association.


  21. - Rasselas - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:19 pm:

    No, for the same reason as many - the rules for casinos and restaurants are too lax. Bowling is an indoor sport (cut your snickering), not a passive, sit-down event. Their analogy to casinos and restaurants is false. And the gym rules are also too lax.


  22. - Captain Obvious - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:20 pm:

    Agree with Wylie. Money talks, other things walk here in Illinois.


  23. - DuPage Michigander - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:26 pm:

    Spacing every other lane, requiring masks, sanitizing practices, encouraging hand washing, implementing a reservation system…I see many opportunities for allowing 50% capacity - especially at the larger facilities.


  24. - Not a Billionaire - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:29 pm:

    Voted yes for same reason Rasselas and others voted no. The good thing about stage 4 now is the rise might stop the real disasters in fall. Also noticed no one has rushed back to the downtown Chicago offices.


  25. - Not a Billionaire - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:31 pm:

    CNN went to a Houston hospital to meet people struggling to survive . There was a bar owner . His bar is closed indefinitely…..


  26. - nols - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:36 pm:

    If casinos and fitness centers are at 50% bowling should be the same. If anything I believe the bowling centers will be better at maintaining social distancing and sanitizing than these others.


  27. - Aamalia - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:37 pm:

    Casino rules are bad and should be repealed. no more stupid rulings.


  28. - "Old Timer Dem" - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:52 pm:

    Yes, Bowlers should be allowed on every other lane and practice social distancing protocol. It is doable. Bowling alleys won’t be able to begin their fall and winter leagues with the current guidelines in place. Many will go out of business.


  29. - Back to the Future - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:54 pm:

    Pritzker was in the Casino business so it should not be a surprise that he favors that group over bowling folks.
    The Bowling Center industry would probably do a better job, is “family friendly“ and, as far as I know, no one committed suicide because of a bowling debt.
    Treating Bowling Centers this way is unfair.


  30. - JP - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:55 pm:

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.


  31. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 12:58 pm:

    Voted no, based off of my trip to the grocery store and the inability of people to wear a mask correctly (both employees and customers) I am not convinced at this point people can be trusted in more social indoor settings.

    That being said, I think we are at most 90 days away from things getting such that we may end up just saying F– it, and going for herd immunity (I do not think this is a good idea) but I can see it happening.


  32. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 1:02 pm:

    ===going for herd immunity===

    Except there is no proof that immunity lasts for those who’ve caught the covid.


  33. - olddog - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 1:04 pm:

    Voted no. I don’t know enough about casinos or bowling alleys to have an informed opinion, but I do know enough about IDPH and the health care professionals that were consulted in setting Illinois’ guidelines to trust the process. We need to listen to the doctors and the scientists.


  34. - The Way I See It - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    I actually believe that this is manageable. One group on every ball return is sensible. The layout of the bowling alley makes social distancing easier than just about everywhere else.


  35. - Henry Francis - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 1:31 pm:

    We gotta give the skinheads something to do.
    https://youtu.be/UDB9oCgVHGw


  36. - Demoralized - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 2:40 pm:

    ==I think we are at most 90 days away from things getting such that we may end up just saying F– it==

    I think a good chunk of the populace is already there which is why you are seeing nobody abiding by the rules of reopening in some places and why cases are once again spiking out of control.


  37. - revvedup - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    The IBPA’s new song (sung to the theme from Laverne and Shirley)
    “Give us any rule, we’ll break it.
    Give us any chance, we’ll take it.
    We’re gon-na make Corona surge,
    Doin’ it our way

    Gotta bowl no matter what now,
    Even if we shut our towns down,
    We’ve got-ta spread Corona now,
    Doin’ it our way

    There’s nothing we won’t try,
    Never heard the word ‘pandemic’
    This time, they’re no stopping us

    When we go back to Phase 3
    Then we’ll just file bankruptcy
    And we’ll fill the ICU’s
    With me and youuuuu….


  38. - 4 percent - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 2:55 pm:

    I hate to say this because I bowled as a kid but when is the last time you went into a bowling alley and it was actually at 50 percent capacity? Tons of them have closed because of a lack of business over the past decade.


  39. - Downstate Illinois - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 4:49 pm:

    Since we obviously aren’t following science but arbitrary rules made up people who find bowing beneath them we shouldn’t be surprised.


  40. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 5:11 pm:

    Bowling should have been abolished when they went to a 36 week season.


  41. - NoMoreMC - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 7:12 pm:

    Voted yes. As the IBPA said, bowling centers vary greatly in size, so a fixed number of people doesnt work. The tiny 4 lane house in Frankfort would be packed with 50 people. At the 84 lane house in Addison, 50 people could dissapear. This is not a 1 size fits all proposition. I worked in the industry for a decade. You could easily spread people out. Maybe not 50 percent of fire capacity, butlimit teams to trios on league night so you’d have 6 per pair of lanes. For open bowling, keep the same limit. Spread the tables out and keep the hand sanitizer flowing. Very few bowling centers are full on a regular basis, so it would be highly unlikely that any place is going to be turning people away with reasonable occupancy limits.


  42. - RDB - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 8:55 pm:

    No, simply because per my limited time inside bowling alleys, many are often germ pits, without much cleaning. Some of these facilities need to hire a cleaning crew before reopening,


  43. - eb - Tuesday, Jun 30, 20 @ 2:51 pm:

    I voted yes, as Bowling is an IHSA sport as well as NCAA sport and club. These centers are needed to compete and need to placed in the proper category, indoor sports.


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