Route 66 News

Bowling alley in Bloomington closes after 55 years

Circle Lanes, Bloomington

The AMF Circle Lanes bowling center near Route 66 in Bloomington, Illinois, closed Sunday after more than 55 years in business, according the Bloomington Pantagraph.

Management didn’t explain the closure, but told the newspaper a decision was made to shutter it after “a comprehensive¬†analysis.”

Translation: The AMF Circle Lanes was another in a long line of bowling alleys that fell victim to the declining popularity of the sport. The number of bowling alleys in the U.S. has declined 30 percent over the last two decades. A good analysis of this phenomenon may be read here.

The Pantagraph had this history about the AMF Circle Lanes:

The bowling center opened near Illinois 9 and Route 66 in November 1959, a 32-alley facility developed by a group of Bloomington businessmen. William Barker, a spokesman for the developers, told The Pantagraph then that the estimated cost of the project was $750,000 and was financed with local money. Two lanes were added in 1983 and in 1997, all 34 lanes were replaced. Bowlmor-AMF purchased the property in 2004.

“This is a sad day,” said John Felkamp on Monday morning as he toured the darkened facility with employees. “I’ve been bowling here for 22 years. A friend of mine texted me last night with the news. I had to come see for myself. I’m just very sad.”

I’ve found little on the Internet about this venue, except that it was simply named Circle Lanes before AMF bought it.

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