Bowling alleys in Wisconsin begin to open

Local News

LA CROSSE Wis. (WLAX) – The bumpers and pins are starting to pop up again at Wisconsin bowling alleys. First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler has more on safety precautions in place, and how some bowlers are crossing state lines to hit the lanes again.

For competitive bowlers, the stay at home order put a halt to any strikes. But now as restrictions loosen up across Wisconsin, more bowlers are able to hit the lanes again.

Maddi Kropp from Rochester says, “It’s been beyond hard, the last ball I threw was in March at the girls state tournament in Minneapolis.”

Pla Mor lanes in La Crosse opened last Wednesday after nine weeks closed. While excited to welcome back bowlers, the alley says it was a weird feeling to be open again as they weren’t sure the business would survive.

Pla Mor Lanes owner, Dick Zierke said, “It was kind of like walking in and opening for the first time when I bought it 21 years ago. It’s just a weird feeling that we’re coming back open. I had nerves.”

Pla Mor spent an entire week cleaning the alley before having any visitors. Its also implemented extra cleaning measures, a smaller menu, and using every other lane.

“Only being able to use eight of our 16 lanes,” Zierke said,  “it’s just quiet. Business brings more business and so we’re just trying to do some stuff. We’re going to start some programs to get people in the door.”

While bowling alleys are allowed to be open here in La Crosse, in Minnesota they’re still not and Pla Mor has seen avid bowlers from Minnesota make over an hour drive just to use its lanes.

“Now more than ever I think that the beloved bowlers of Minnesota just want to get back out on the lanes and throw bowling balls instead of  having to drive an hour over to Wisconsin or Iowa to go bowling,” said Kropp.

Pla Mor says it doesn’t know what the future will hold and worries a Covid spike could result in having to close again. For the time being, it’s switched policies to charge 15 dollars an hour for a lane with a six people maximum

Zierke said, “We used to do it by the game, but by doing it by the hour it gives us a better chance to know when you’re going to get done. It gives us time to get that lane cleaned up for the next group.”

Pla Mor opens at 11 am Monday through Friday and 3 pm on Saturday. Youth and adult summer leagues are starting next week.

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