If you do a Google search for the phrase "bowling is a dying sport," you will discover that folks have been predicting the demise of keggling since the dawn of the digital age.
However, that speculation recently turned into reality in South Milwaukee and Waukesha when AMF Bowling Worldwide abruptly closed the AMF South Park Lanes and AMF Waukesha Lanes.
Bowlers had flocked to the two large bowling centers for generations.
American Machine and Foundry (AMF) began in 1900 as a manufacturer of equipment for the tobacco industry. The company invented the pinspotter in the 1940s, revolutionizing and automating the game. After World War II, the company began expanding its bowling business and later turned to manufacturing sports equipment and bicycles. At one time, AMF owned Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. and Hatteras Yachts, but it remains the largest operator of bowling centers in the nation, by far.
Bowling peaked as a sport in the mid-1960s with approximately 12,000 bowling centers built mostly in blue-collar neighborhoods across the United States. By 2011, the number of certified bowling centers had shrunk to 5,160, according to the United States Bowling Congress.
The closings in South Milwaukee and Waukesha came in the aftermath of AMF filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2012. It was the second bankruptcy filing for the Mechanicsville, Va.-based company in 11 years.
Last year, AMF merged with Strike Holdings LLC to form a new company, Bowlmor AMF.
Bowlmor AMF put some of its 300-some bowling centers up for sale but apparently could not find suitable buyers for the South Milwaukee and Waukesha sites.
South Milwaukee Mayor Eric Brooks said the closure of South Park Lanes is a significant blow to his community.
"It’s clear that AMF South Park Lanes has a special place in many hearts in South Milwaukee and the South Shore," Brooks said in his mayoral blog.
Brooks pursued an explanation for the closures and received a statement from Bowlmor AMF…Read more...