Route 66 News

Last frame coming for 66 Bowl

The historic 66 Bowl of Oklahoma City has been sold to an India grocer, and its last bowling frame will occur in mid-August.

Spices of India, down the road from the 66 Bowl on the Northwest 39th Street alignment of Route 66, has bought the bowling center and concert venue, reported Oklahoma Route 66 expert Jim Ross, who was informed by a Daily Oklahoman newspaper reporter on Thursday.

A group of investors reportedly made a bid to buy the 66 Bowl when it was first announced it was for sale last month. But a 66 Bowl spokesperson said in an e-mail Thursday: “We looked for help all over to keep it as a bowling center, through numerous investors, and the search was unsuccessful.”

Donna McKeegan, a 20-year employee of 66 Bowl, said that the bowling alley’s last bash will be Aug. 21 and that the new owners take over Sept. 6.

She wasn’t certain what would happen to the 66 Bowl’s iconic neon sign.

“We’re all heartbroken here,” McKeegan said by telephone Thursday.

The 66 Bowl was built in 1959. Jim Haynes has owned the bowling center since 1978, and he reportedly put the 66 Bowl up for sale a few weeks ago because of health problems in the family.

In addition to bowling, the 66 Bowl was well-known as a venue for rockabilly and punk music groups. One of its shows included Wanda “Queen of Rock” Jackson in 2009, on its 50th anniversary. Jackson met her future husband at the 66 Bowl in the early 1960s.

The 66 Bowl also played host for the Okie Twist-off classic-car, hot rod and rockabilly festival. This year’s festival will be Aug. 6-7.

UPDATE: Here is the story from the Oklahoman.

I have little to add, except it’s disingenuous for the director for the Oklahoma City Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum to claim that the sport of bowling is not in decline. In the 1960s, there were 12,000 bowling alleys. Now, there are less than half that. And some of the biggest operators saw revenue declines in recent years.

The decline in bowling is a big reason why the Rose Bowl on Route 66 in Tulsa no longer operates as a bowling center. And that same decline undoubtedly affected 66 Bowl.


10 thoughts on “Last frame coming for 66 Bowl

  1. Robert Medley

    It is not true about Wanda Jackson. She met her husband at Penn 44 Lanes in south Oklahoma City

  2. Anonymous

    Looks like the owners decided Indian Spices dough was more to their liking than keeping the alley open. The old money talks scenario. I’d think it interesting to see what the actual numbers here are, such as how much the group who wanted to keep the place open had offered, how much the sellers wanted and how much was eventually paid to buy the place. I’m betting all were about the same, and that the owners made something after all the bills were paid. If t his place was such a landmark it seems that the owners would have tried to work with those who wanted to keep it open, such as deferred payments or partial ownership, down the road.

    1. Ron

      To say that the counteroffers from those who wanted to keep 66 Bowl as a bowling alley were “about the same” as the grocer’s is a huge assumption, to say the least. I’ve heard nothing to indicate this was ever the case. In fact, I’m not even aware that a genuine counteroffer was even made. The e-mail I got that said “the search was unsuccessful” in finding investors to keep it as a bowling alley speaks volumes.

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  5. Steve

    The owner was quite elderly, and in failing health. He had neither the time nor the effort to continue. Was running the place from a distance, with several employees, and accountability may have been a concern. At any rate, they were in no position to take payments.

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