1C Yes, Rochester is definitely a bowling city

By Donny Henn

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

With cold weather beginning to chase Minnesotans indoors for the winter, many folks’ fancy turns to bowling. As the 10-pin season really gets revved up, the P-B had a few pressing questions for Nancy Glorvigen, a member of one of Rochester’s first families of bowling.

Nancy and her husband Gene Glorvigen have owned Recreation Lanes Bowling Center on North Broadway for going on 20 years, having bought the business from Gene’s father. Gene and Nancy both grew up in Grand Rapids, Minn., where as a teen Gene worked at Midway Bowl, a 16-lane center of which his father was part owner.

Nancy said "never in his wildest dreams" did Gene think he would own a bowling center. Gene was as an industrial engineer, and his career in the nuclear power industry took their family from the West Coast to the East Coast from 1979-88. Recreation Lanes offered the family a "180 degree turn of profession" and a place to settle down. The Glorvigens have two grown children who are in college.


Post-Bulletin: Is Rochester a bowling city? About how many people will participate in leagues at Recreation Lanes over the winter season?

Nancy Glorvigen: Rochester is a family-oriented city. It is also a very sports-minded city. From a parent's point of view, they are always looking for family-friendly activites that all members can participate in. Bowling is a huge family-friendly activity, and also a great sport for those with a more competitive desire, so therefore, I believe that Rochester is definitely a bowling city. Recreation Lanes will play host to some 26 leagues throughout the year, equating to close to 1,000 league bowlers per week coming through our center. 

P-B: Does bowling participation fluctuate greatly with the change of seasons? What is the trend over the years; has participation in your leagues gone up, gone down, or stayed the same?

N.G.: As with many sports, bowling tends to be more popular during the fall and winter months, but we certainly have a loyal clientele who frequent the center 52 weeks a year. League popularity remains strong. There are always small fluctuations, but in general, our league numbers have remained quite steady despite the economy. Many believed that the smoking ordinances would curtail the strength of league and open bowling, but our numbers have actually increased amidst those changes. 

P-B: Is there still open bowling during the winter months, or are you out of luck if you’re not in a league?

N.G.: We are happy to say that open bowling is alive, well, and going strong. Even amidst the many leagues, there are only a few times when lanes are not available, those being Monday and Thursday from 7-9:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 2:30-5 p.m. Otherwise, there are lanes that have been set aside for open bowling. One of our best kept secrets is the Sunday Morning Special, where for just $10 per lane, up to 6 people can bowl for 1 1/2 hours with an advanced reservation. Also, the open bowling on Friday nights and Saturday evenings come complete with "Thunder Alley" lights, music and fog. This has been popular with young and old alike.

P-B: Is there anything new and exciting in bowling? What is the industry buzzing about?

N.G.: The bowling industry is making an effort to keep youth at the forefront of the game. This year, a new promotion has been unveiled called "Bowlopolis"; an imaginary bowling center designed to capture the imagination of children ages 4-12. lso, as youth go, the nation’s high schools are really on board now with high school team competitions throughout each state. Southeastern Minnesota currently has 14 teams representing 20 high schools; one of 20 conferences state-wide. Also, with regard to technology, web-based reservation programs are finally coming on board that will allow customers to do cyber-booking of their group reservations. Recreation Lanes will be working toward this option for our customers. 


P-B: Do bowling centers still get those sophomoric crank calls, where the caller inquires about the weight and/or color of the center’s, ummm, ‘equipment’, or is that something that went out with the 70's (and That 70's Show)?

N.G.: I cannot speak for other centers, but we have not received inquiries regarding ball color or weight. 

P-B: Have you ever considered an adult league that allows for the use of the bumpers? We're thinking this would be a popular league for sports writers.

N.G.: You would be surprised how many parents WANT to bowl with their kids because they have bumpers on the lane. As for adult bumper leagues? Well, if you provide the bowlers, we can discuss the options!

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