Michigan Bowling Centers Hoping to Open, But Can’t


According to MiBiz, bowling is open for business in 45 of the country’s 50 states, but that’s not so for operators in Michigan, whose centers have been shut down since the Covid-19 pandemic launched the country into lockdown back in March. As expected, operators aren’t too happy about the situation, especially as Detroit’s casinos are set to reopen today, Aug. 5.

“There are bowling centers all over Michigan that are closed right now, and we still have to pay our money to be able to operate as a business,” said Tyler Ladwig, who runs Wenger’s Bowling Center, the oldest bowling facility in Grand Rapids. “We get penalized if we open our doors because the health department threatens to take our food license. The state of Michigan threatens to take our license away plus the liquor commission wants to take our liquor license away. There are so many things that they come at us for if we operate as a full-fledged bowling center.”

Groups like the Independent Bowling and Entertainment Centers Assn. (IBECA) and the Bowling Centers Assn. of Michigan (BCAM) are considering legal action, but are opting to try to lobby the state to allow centers to reopen before going the lawsuit route.

Bo Goergen, who is executive director of BCAM, a professional bowler and the proprietor of Northern Lanes Recreation in Sanford, added, “Nothing is more frustrating when you look, and at the end of the day, I can go get a haircut. I can go get my nails done. I can get a full body massage. I can go to the dentist and have someone with their hands in my mouth. I can even go to a freakin’ strip club and put nasty dollar bills in G-strings, but I can’t open up a bowling center. Seriously.”