The clunking sound of bowling balls striking pins in Seymour will cease after Sunday.
Kingpins Bowl announced Thursday it will close the bowling alley at 643 S. Airport Road and not reopen.
Final times for bowling will be from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Anyone who still has belongings in lockers at the facility should collect them at those times.
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Cost to bowl Sunday will be just 50 cents per game with 50 cent shoe rental. There also will be special deals on food and drinks, said manager Kathy Allen.
Earlier this month, Kingpins said the facility would be temporarily closed for about three weeks in July and August for repairs and maintenance. But the decision to close for good soon followed.
Kingpins Bowl is owned by George and Phyllis Sutherland of Georgia, who purchased the Seymour bowling alley nearly 20 years ago. The bowling alley first opened in the early 1960s, Allen said.
In 2013, the name changed from Starlite Bowl to Kingpins, which also operates bowling alleys in Bedford and Fort Wayne, both of which are closing too.
Allen has managed the bowling alley for the past three years and said the decision to close was not hers but is a result of the Sutherlands wanting to retire.
“It was kind of sudden, and I know there are a lot of rumors, but I respect their decision,” she said.
The property is for sale, she said, and is currently listed with a real estate broker that specializes in selling bowling alleys.
“It would be great if someone from the community would step up to buy it and open it back up,” Allen said.
The closure has a major impact on the local community, as the bowling alley was one of the few places in the area for people to go for indoor recreation and leisure.
More than a dozen leagues, made up of church, commercial and youth teams, used the facility every day of the week, said Erin Newby of Freetown. Newby served as secretary of the Sunday night league and used to work at the bowling alley.
“A lot of bowlers are shocked, sad, mad, all sorts of mixed emotions,” she said.
Developmental Services Inc. in Seymour also used the facility for regular outings for disabled clients, and the Seymour Police DARE program rented the facility annually for lock-ins as a reward for fifth-grade students graduating from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
There is some hope the facility will be purchased and reopened within the next couple of years, Newby added.
In the meantime, Columbus and Scottsburg’s bowling centers have provided information to Seymour leagues about availability at their facilities, Newby said.
“Other than the opportunities to bowl at those two closest centers, there’s really nothing else,” she said.
In 2013, former Starlite Bowl manager Rudy Hinojosa proposed building a $3.5 million state-of the-art bowling and entertainment center on Dupont Drive on Seymour’s east side. That project, however, never got off the ground.
For some area youth, the closing of the bowling center is a major blow.
This past winter, Seymour High School junior Hannah Kaufman won the girls state bowling championship in the singles division. Seymour had both boys and girls bowling teams at the high school and middle school levels.
Kaufman, now a senior, practiced and competed at Kingpins. She’s not sure what she’s going to do now.
Coach Shannon Kelly said Kaufman and the other members of the team should be able to continue representing Seymour in their sport. Trinity Lutheran High School and Crothersville High School also have had bowling teams in the past.
“I’m very surprised and disappointed that things have worked out this way,” Kelly said. “I am praying for a worthy buyer, but I will start working on our options next week. After all, we have a state champion that deserves the right to defend her title.”
Kelly said Seymour Middle School and High School bowlers should watch the team’s Facebook page for updates as more information becomes available.
For one local agency supporting youth, the bowling alley was more than just a fun place to go, it served as the location for its biggest annual fundraiser.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana has held Bowl for Kids Sake at Kingpins for 22 years. It typically brings in anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 a year for Jackson County, which is roughly one third of the agency’s budget, said Kate Eder, executive director.
“Bowl for Kids’ Sake was definitely one of our first concerns when we heard the news that the Seymour bowling alley would be closing,” Eder said. “Not only is it one of our major sources of income, but many in the community look forward to the event each year.”
As soon as Eder heard the news of the closing, she contacted members of her board of directors and the Jackson County Advisory Council for guidance.
“We will explore our options, whether that be holding Bowl for Kids Sake at a nearby bowling center or developing a new fundraising event,” she said. “As with all changes that impact nonprofits, we will work together with a focus on our mission to determine the best course of action that will give us the greatest opportunity to serve the children of the community.”
On Friday afternoon, several people, including Mary Miller and Rick Schuley, were visiting Kingpins to pick up their bowling equipment or to get in a few more games.
Miller said the decision to close makes her sad.
The 88-year-old Seymour native has been bowling at Kingpins for more than 50 years.
“I’m going to miss the friends I’ve made more than the bowling itself because I’m getting pretty old, and my average has gone down,” she said while loading her bowling equipment into her vehicle.
Miller said she may return if someone purchases and reopens the bowling alley.
“We’ll see,” she said.
Rick Schuley of Seymour said he has been bowling for about eight years now, but he also bowled years ago when he was younger.
“I bowl in the Lutheran Men’s League on Monday nights,” Schuley said. “It’s a good league.”
He said he’s going to miss all the camaraderie he has with other bowlers and like Miller hopes it doesn’t stay closed forever.