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.