The building that housed a bowling alley in Seymour since the early 1960s has sat empty since July.
Cars haven’t filled the parking lot for family nights out at the lanes, leagues, school matches or fundraisers by area organizations.
But soon, people may be able to lace up their bowling shoes and shoot for strikes and spares once again.
Rudy Hinojosa, former general manager of the bowling alley when it was known as Starlite Bowl, has announced he is forming an investment group to reopen the bowling alley at 643 S. Airport Road.
A few local bowlers recently contacted Hinojosa about the possibility of reopening, and he said he is willing and able to help get the doors open if he can find the financial help.
All he needs are investors to start the process.
“Seymour and the surrounding areas deserve a new, safe, clean entertainment facility for the families, friends and co-workers,” Hinojosa said. “There is no reason why people should be driving to Columbus or Scottsburg or Franklin to bowl. This community needs more than a movie theater for their entertainment.”
Hinojosa said he has met with city officials and talked to business owners and members of the community, and everyone is excited to see the center reopen.
“I believe that this bowling center will help the city in attracting new businesses and offer a new entertainment option for the employees and families of the new businesses that are coming to Seymour in the near future,” he said.
Hinojosa said he expects to employ 30 to 35 people and will be utilizing local businesses to provide services and items needed to renovate and update the bowling alley, which changed its name to Kingpins Bowl in 2013.
Hinojosa is scheduling a meeting sometime this month for anyone interested in investing in this opportunity. The date, time and place of the meeting will be announced soon, he said.
In early 2013, Hinojosa proposed building a $3.5 million state-of the-art bowling and entertainment center on Dupont Drive on Seymour’s east side. That project, however, never got off the ground.
Hinojosa started in the bowling business in California and has been in the business for more than 45 years.
“I have owned two bowling centers, built a bowling center from the ground up and managed bowling centers and have experience, knowledge and contacts within the bowling industry to bring this exciting opportunity to Seymour,” he said.
In July, it was announced that Kingpins Bowl would be temporarily closed for about three weeks in July and August for repairs and maintenance. But the decision to close for good soon followed.
Kingpins Bowl, which closed alleys in Bedford and Fort Wayne soon after Seymour, is owned by George and Phyllis Sutherland of Georgia. They purchased the Seymour bowling alley nearly 20 years ago.
Kathy Allen, who managed the bowling alley for three years, said the decision to close was a result of the Sutherlands wanting to retire.
“It was kind of sudden, and I know there are a lot of rumors, but I respect their decision,” she told The Tribune last summer.
The property was put up for sale and was listed with a real estate broker that specializes in selling bowling alleys.
Allen said at the time she hoped someone from the community would step up to buy it and open it back up.
The closure had a major impact on the local community, as the bowling alley was one of the few places in the area for people to go for indoor recreation and leisure.
More than a dozen leagues, made up of church, commercial and youth teams, used the facility every day of the week.
Developmental Services Inc. in Seymour used the facility for regular outings for disabled clients, and the Seymour Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program rented the facility annually for lock-ins as a reward for fifth-grade students graduating from the program.
Columbus and Scottsburg’s bowling centers provided information to Seymour leagues about availability at their facilities.
Scottsburg also allowed Seymour High School’s bowling teams to practice there this past winter.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana conducted its biggest annual fundraiser, Bowl for Kids’ Sake, at the Seymour bowling alley for 22 years. The organization recently announced this year’s event will be April 9 at Columbus Bowling Center.