Leading the Way to get the Ball Rolling

Updated 6/17/2020 10:49 AM

The Illinois State Bowling Proprietors' Association represents a majority of 270 independent bowling centers employing more than 5,000 Illinois residents and is privileged to entertain an average of 1,500 customers per week with over 21 million repeat customers per year. Like most business in the State of Illinois, we have closed our bowling centers since March 16 to help "flatten the curve" of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

During this time, our proprietors have taken proactive steps to deeply clean and disinfect our facilities while developing a comprehensive list of industry-wide guidelines and best practices to protect our staff and customers. A task force of leaders throughout all of Illinois was assembled to help guide, educate, and facilitate our members through these tumultuous times. This task force successfully engaged the State of Illinois to mutually develop our reopening procedures as we "gear up" for the potential reopening date of June 26 when "Restore Illinois" Phase 4 begins.


Most of our efforts have been to assure state and local governments that we can reopen with the paramount concern of the safety and health of our customers and staff. But now we want to reassure to our customers -- most who are a second family to us -- that we are taking every needed step to provide a clean and safe recreation destination for the community

Our Association has provided more than 1,000 gallons of locally sourced sanitizer, face shields, social distancing floor decals, and a plethora of online education resources to each member bowling center prior to the reopening in an effort to diminish most of our customer's concerns of a sanitized, clean environment. With protocols in place such as sanitizing shared equipment as bowling balls and rental bowling shoes after every customer contact, disinfection of the lane seating immediately after a guest visit, and sanitizing of high-traffic customer point of service counters, we feel we can mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for those who are ready to get back to bowling.

We will be strongly recommending reservations of our lanes when visiting our center at 50% of our normal capacity. This will provide us the opportunity to strategically distance groups, as well as minimize the number of customers waiting in areas for service. During their visits, guests can expect our staff and center to provide them with verbal and written instruction of how the bowling experience will begin, proceed, and conclude. We know our customers and staff want to protect our peers from transmission and, with a group effort, we can positively impact all our guests throughout the day.

ISBPA centers are also determined to give our staff the resources, education, and processes needed to protect them as well as our guests. Daily health and temperature screenings of staff prior to each shift will be in place to uncover any potential COVID-19 infection. We will also be providing PPE (masks and gloves) for all staff on site. With rigorous online training and education, as well as center-directed staff education for the COVID-19 world, we expect and demand that all in our service teams provide our staff and customers the most proactive means to keep us healthy.

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I personally have had the privilege of being a bowling proprietor for more than 18 years. I could not envision a different occupation where I can have fun and friendly interactions with my customers and staff. Most of my customers make multiple visits to my center weekly, and I have known many generationally as their grandparents, parents, and now their children bowl with us. They are second family to me and in no situation would I want them to potentially get sick or injured in my place of business. My colleagues throughout the state share my sentiments. Through our leadership and open communication with our state and local health departments, you can expect a safe and enjoyable visit to all our member centers across the state of Illinois.

We cannot wait to hear the pins fall and the laughter rise again!


Bill Brennan

President, Illinois Bowling Proprietors Association

Proprietor, Bluebird Lanes, Chicago

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