illinois bowling alleys

Bowling Alleys: 50 Person Limit is a ‘Detriment' to Industry

Bowling alley owners said without fall leagues, they may not be able to keep doors open.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

After months of being closed due to the fight against the coronavirus, bowling alley operators in Illinois said they are opening with a disadvantage compared to other industries under current Restore Illinois guidelines.

Henry Barber, owner of Stardust Bowl of Addison, said bowling alleys are not allowed to operate at 50% building capacity like casinos and health clubs in Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan. 

Instead, he said bowling alleys are capped off at 50 people.

“We would like to see fairness,” Barber said. “A set limit for an industry where there’s varying sizes of buildings, it really doesn’t make sense.”

Barber's bowling alley in Addison could hold more than 1,000 people on a busy, normal day.  He said fall bowling leagues generate a big portion of his revenue.

“With a 50 person max, it’s impossible. It’s really going to be a detriment to our industry,” Barber said.

Bowling alley owners interviewed by NBC 5 said they spent the last three months redesigning their facilities and adding sanitizing stations to help keep customers safe.

"Everybody wants to get well and keep everybody well, but we need as much capacity as we can have to be able to survive," said Mike Melone of Wood Dale Bowl.

A spokesperson for Gov. J. B. Pritzker said the Restore Illinois plan and the guidance issued to businesses are based on public health regulations aimed at keeping people healthy.

“The administration solicited feedback on best practices for reopening businesses directly from those who run the businesses, but the final guidance was issued after medical experts approved the plans,” the spokesperson said.

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