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Lee Owen: Bowling centers are far from boring anymore

By Lee Owen

The Daily Advance

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When people think of bowling centers, they typically think of a hole in the wall somewhere downtown, where old men meet once a week, light up cigars, and toss a few rubber balls at the pins.

This is the stereotype that bowling has acquired over time, but centers nowadays are nothing like our grandfathers’ houses of past.

While I have not even come close to bowling every center in the world, nor the country, and not even the state of North Carolina, I have bowled in some interesting centers.

I have bowled on military bases, in shopping centers converted into alleys, and even in the basement of the Reno Hilton, which is so large it has its own zip code.

Recently I had the good fortune to visit an establishment called Bo’s Entertainment in Lenoir.

This center had 24 lanes, 10 of which were in a private room with leather seating and its own wait staff, along with two laser tag arenas, mini golf, and an arcade.

I have a couple of bowling centers that I have on my bucket list of places to toss a ball, which I have either seen in person but failed to bring my equipment, or have seen online and dreamt of seeing in person.

The first is the Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney World in Florida.

Located at Downtown Disney, this center has 30 lanes, live music, and first class food for snacking. Like all other Disney experiences, they guarantee the occasional visit by some of Disney’s favorite characters, and I personally plan to have Mickey as a teammate this summer when I go on vacation.

Another great place that I have on my list is a hidden gem that I stumbled across a couple of years ago when I was in New York City.

Frames NYC is a 28 lane center located inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. This may sounds less than glamorous, but when you walk in and are met by a host in a tuxedo, you quickly realize this is going to be much more than a bus station alley.

The center features red satin seats, low light, fancy bowling shoes, huge screens at the end of the lanes, and even private, two-lane, VIP rooms for parties.

In case you were wondering about large centers, and want to add these to your list of places to visit, the largest center in the United States is in Wickliffe, Ohio, and is 96 lanes.

While this sounds huge, it is not even close to the biggest center in the world.

Nagoya Grand Bowl, in Japan, is currently the largest center in the world, at 156 lanes, featuring 52 lanes on three floors, with each floor having its own theme.

A 500 lane center is rumored to be in the works in Japan right now, so I imagine my bucket list will be expanding soon.