A long-running Vancouver bowling alley will see its final pin drop at the end of the month. The Varsity-Ridge 5 Pin Bowling Centre (2120 West 15th Avenue) is slated to close on June 27.
An open house, to which the public is invited, will be held on June 26 from 7 to 9 p.m.
“It’s just devastating for everybody,” Ken Hayden, whose family has owned the 1950s-built bowling centre since 1981, told the Georgia Straight by phone today (June 4). “It’ll be sad. There will be lots of tears before it’s finished, I’m sure.”
The strip mall where the Varsity-Ridge is located was purchased by Cressey Development Group in 2011 with plans to build condos on the site. In February, the historic Ridge Theatre, which is situated on the same block, presented its final screening after more than 50 years in business.
“One of the famous comments is, ‘All we need is another condo, right?’” Hayden said. “All of the school kids, the children’s birthday parties, and seniors—it’s just devastating for everybody. That’s the comment we get more than anything, really. They just don’t understand why a place like this cannot continue.”
Approximately 500 people in registered bowling leagues will be affected by the Varsity-Ridge closure. Hayden said that he and his wife will continue to help run these leagues from the Commodore Lanes downtown.
“We won’t have any financial interest in the Commodore, nor will we get aid by the Commodore. We’re just going to be like volunteers so that our bowlers can continue to bowl and be with each other, which they have for many, many years,” Hayden said.
Several Varsity-Ridge employees will be hired by Commodore Lanes, and he believes that youth bowlers and the Paralympians that utilized the Arbutus bowling facility will probably move to Grandview Lanes on Commercial Drive.
Hayden has also found a home for most of the bowling equipment he purchased—including the automatic scoring tools, which has been sold to Commodore Lanes.
“A friend of mine who used to be in the bowling business in Salmon Arm owns a building in Chase. He’s starting up a new bowling centre, so now I’m able to sell him all of my PA systems, my music stuff, my glow-in-the-dark lights—whatever he needs to start up a bowling centre,” Hayden said. “In some ways, it’s sort of like a perfect storm. It’s ugly, but at least we were able to sell all that stuff off.”