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Article posted: 7/12/2012 5:30 AM

Rolling Meadows bowling alley closure surprises many

Workers inside the AMF Rolling Meadows bowling alley Wednesday were tearing out the lanes.

Workers inside the AMF Rolling Meadows bowling alley Wednesday were tearing out the lanes.

 

George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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After more than 50 years, AMF Rolling Meadows bowling alley closed last week, catching many in the community by surprise.

AMF Rolling Meadows closed July 3 because of financial considerations, company officials said.

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"From time to time we review all the locations and have to make some tough decisions based on financial performance, and in that case, that's what we did," said Merrell Wreden, vice president of marketing for AMF, which is based in Virginia.

AMF, which has more than 250 centers around the country, closed four other locations last week, including one in South Chicago Heights.

Though the company regularly reviews its locations for possible problems, the closing caught everyone from city employees to league bowlers off-guard.

"It came as a complete surprise to a lot of people," said Valerie Dehner, Rolling Meadows community development director.

"We consider it a great loss for our downtown."

The bowling alley has been in Rolling Meadows since 1959 and was probably bought as part of a large acquisition drive by AMF in the late 1990s, Wreden said.

Dehner said the city has already been in conversations with the property owners about what will happen next with the building, but no decisions have been made.

The alley, which has 36 lanes of bowling, pool tables and a concession area, was also home to the Thursday Night Men's Bowling League, which has played in different locations around the suburbs for the past 25 years but has been in Rolling Meadows for at least five, said Brian Fennig, vice president of the league.

"We were totally shocked," said Fennig, who was notified by someone else who just happened to drive by and see that the alley was closed.

"We're totally disappointed," Fennig said. "We enjoyed the house. It was a great location for a lot of our teams."

Fennig said he was the one to notify a few employees by email when they hadn't even been told yet.

The surprise factor was part of the plan, Wreden said.

"Sometimes when we close a center, it's best to just do it quickly," he said.

Wreden said of the about 15 employees, some, not all, may be relocated to the AMF bowling alley in Hoffman Estates.

Wreden said someone will still be in the Rolling Meadows alley, 3245 Kirchoff Road, until Friday to let employees or frequent bowlers claim any property they may have left at the location.

"It's one less entertainment or recreation venue in our community," said Linda Ballantine, executive director of the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce.

"Anytime something significant closes, it leaves a hole in our community that needs to be filled."

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