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Brownswick

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Reply with quote  #1 
PRODIGY ODDITY: It's the Sign of the Times
 
 
The most unusual (and perhaps the most boring) of all PRODIGY videos to date.
 

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Randy Brown
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amf300bowler

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I feel sorry for you. [bawl]
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Brownswick

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Don't.  I am friends with their corporate head of youth initiatives and she and the company are very supportive of what I'm doing with PRODIGY and with the youth program at the center.  They oughta be.  They're getting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free publicity.

But on a more serious front, I just haven't seen the kind of overwhelming evidence that people talk about that Bowlero Corporation isn't fully behind our LEAGUE center. They just spent $1.6 MILLION on upgrading the center and have made it clear that it will remain a league center.  Until I'm proven wrong to believe them, I will continue to believe them.  So far, they've pretty much done everything they've said they were going to do.

It's true that Bowlmor-AMF closed a bunch of its bowling centers.  But as a businessman, I get it.  When you have properties that are under-performing, you have two choices:  Either sink more money into them and hope to turn things around, or cut your losses and shut 'em down.  They've analyzed their existing properties and they've made both kinds of decisions with regard to different properties.  Some have been upgraded, others have been closed.  I don't see why this should be controversial.

Everyone I talk to who's in the bowling business -- whether they're in a big company like Bowlero, or a little mom and pop operation -- they all say the same thing.  To be profitable today, you can't rely solely on league business.  There's just not enough of it, except in a few rare places.  They HAVE to push either open play bowling or they have to go "all in" on parties and corporate outings, or some mix of all of the above.

Bowlero still has quite a few houses that remain designated as "league houses."  Ours is one.  And actually, they have at least four or five such centers.  But remember, when Bowlmor-AMF acquired Brunswick in 2014, that gave them a grand total of ELEVEN bowling centers in the metro Atlanta market.  Some of their existing AMF centers were in the same part of town as the Brunswick centers they acquired.  So it came as a surprise to no one when they closed down AMF Snellville (underperforming, getting wiped out by Brunswick Zone Lilburn) and AMF Marietta (only 32 lanes, a dump in a bad part of town, and surrounded by three different houses, two of which they picked up in the Brunswick acquisition).

They've just sunk a bunch of money into our house, Brunswick Zone Lilburn and Brunswick Zone Austell, which are all changing their names to Bowlero.

Look, all the Brunswick houses will be changing their name, probably to Bowlero.  When Bowlmor-AMF acquired the Brunswick bowling centers in 2014, they also paid for a five-year license of the name Brunswick.  (Or Brunswick Zone.)  The five years is up this September.  So the name had to change.  They have basically three brands that they push:  AMF, Bowlero and Bowlmor.  Bowlmor is a full-blown party house.  AMF is strictly leagues.  Bowlmor is a slightly more upscale version of their league houses, where they'll have the flexibility to also do parties.  I've never understood why a center couldn't do both -- leagues and parties.  It ain't hard to figure it out.  You've gotta have that solid financial underpinning that leagues give you, but in the down time, sell all the parties you can.  What's not to like about that plan?


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Max49

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Reply with quote  #4 
Keep  us updated on how it goes Randy.  I already told you Bowlero ran all the leagues off in my old favorite bowling alley and pretty much turned it into a night club that does'nt open til 4 PM.  They also enabled our new league house to continually raise prices, because they don't have much competition.

   If they take out those nice tables and put in couches,  I would say it's a red flag indicating the begining of the end. Let us know



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Once the parties and corporate events make more money than your youth program, you'll be gone. I give it 3 years tops because they'll be pushing that and not league bowling. They didn't put all that money into your house for leagues. I don't care what they tell you. They can charge $6.00 per game for open play and no league is going to pay $18.00 per team on a league night just to the house. They are an open bowling and party company.

Bowlero/AMF/Bowl-Mor, whatever they want to call themselves, has never had any hesitation to cancel leagues, at the last minute no less, for a party or corporate event if they think it will bring in more money. I've read about it many times.

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Brownswick

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Reply with quote  #6 

I really don't know why some of you guys are so insistent on raining on MY parade.  Honestly, it doesn't matter one iota to me what they do with the bowling center.  I've built a brand with PRODIGY BOWLERS TOUR that I feel quite confident I'd be able to place in any one of several bowling centers around the country.  And since I can move anywhere I want (I work from home, and as long as I have a fast internet connection, I can work from most anywhere I please), it would be no sweat off my behind if I did have to relocate.  And might actually benefit the show as it would expose it to a whole new group of kids.

But I'm tellin' ya, even as it is, we've got about a dozen kids in our program who travel all over the country to bowl in scholarship tournaments, and pretty much everywhere they go, they get recognized and asked for their autographs.  Heck, one of 'em was in Michigan for a big college recruitment deal a couple of weekends ago. He bowled like crap (probably didn't help his recruitment chances), but had a couple of families come up to him and ask if they could take a picture with him.

So I really don't care much what Bowlero does.  They've been very supportive of me and of the show.  I've brought them a bunch of business.  Their folks at corporate were very interested in scaling PRODIGY and turning it into something they could plop down into a bunch of their centers.  I balked at the idea because part of the show's appeal is that fans get used to seeing some of the same kids again and again, just like we all get used to rooting for certain players on the PBA telecasts.  If we took PRODIGY to a different house every week, you'd never see the same kid twice, and I think for whatever benefit it might bring by reaching different regions of the country, we'd lose more by severing the ties our audience has with their favorite kids that they like to follow.

But I'm tellin' you, you're wrong about Bowlero.  Yes, they have houses where they've chased off the leagues.  But they also have league houses.  And as you have pointed out, some of the houses where they chased off the leagues, now they've come to realize that they chased off their steady, repeat customers, and are trying to attract some leagues back.  I think they've learned that the best bet is to try to do both.  They will always have some houses geared more for parties and corporate outings.  And they will always have houses that are geared more for league bowling and hosting tournaments.  Just depends on the market you're in.  Atlanta is a pretty strong league market, especially at a few of these Bowlero (formerly Brunswick Zone) houses.  They'd be fools to run 'em off.  Besides, after the acquisition of the Brunswick houses and getting rid of a couple of the under-performing AMF houses, they still have NINE bowling centers here in the Atlanta market.  They won't turn 'em all into one flavor of bowling center.  They'll have a mix.  As they should.

As for canceling league nights in favor of parties/bookings, I've got news for you:  Brunswick used to do that, too.  All centers do that.  They'd be fools not to.  They're in business to make money.  Most league contracts stipulate that the center has the flexibility to reclaim a couple of dates per year for just such a purpose.  It's no biggie.

And honestly, if they're running off youth leagues, they're just running off their future customers.  They wouldn't do that for no reason.


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Max49

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Reply with quote  #7 
Not tring to rain on your parade at all Randy,  What you are doing is great and I enjoy watching it;  and when/ if Bowlero turns your bowling alley into a night club, I sure hope and think you will find another house.

Bowlero took over all the Brunswick houses here in the Denver area. They have not ruined all of them; yet.  But our house was their crown jewel and  that is the only one renamed "Bowlero"   It was a mess,  They had gleeful signs all over , "excuse our mess while we turn your center into a Bowlero" or something like that.    Carpet came out, tables and chairs came out,  even the house ball racks came out,  then the daytime leagues had to go. 
 All the rest with leagues are still named "Brunswick Zone",  That's why I feel it may be bad news to see you get the Bowlero sign
Brunswick really sold us all out when they sold to AMF.  
 But trouble often come in 3s and AMF has only filed  BK twice.

Keep up your Prodigy show,  you're doing gr8t with it and I enjoy

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Brownswick

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Reply with quote  #8 

Look, I don't have a crystal ball.  And neither do you.  But I can tell you this much:

I am well aware of Bowlero/Bowlmor-AMF's reputation.  I've read the articles, seen the interviews, know the backstory.  There is nothing that can happen that will surprise me, either way.

But I also know this:  Just because something happened somewhere else doesn't mean it's going to happen here.  It doesn't even mean that it's any more or less likely to happen here.  Having run a business for years, I know that businesspeople make decisions on what they believe will yield the best results for their business.

Fact 1:  The prevailing "wisdom" in recent years is that bowling centers cannot survive on league bowling alone.

Fact 2:  About five years ago, it was trendy in the bowling community to believe a pot of gold awaits the proprietor who punts all forms of league bowling in favor of open play, corporate outings and parties.

Fact 3:  Many bowling centers tried that recipe and it failed.  

Fact 4:  Word travels fast, especially within a big company like Bowlero Corporation.

It's my belief that while the trend to move away from league play has not stopped (and likely won't anytime soon), the fever may be breaking.  There have been enough bowling center operators get woo'd by the notion of chasing after this pot of gold that awaits proprietors who super-serve the corporate crowd/open play/birthday parties and have failed without the stable and predictable financial underpinning that a league clientele base provides.  Heck, I know of several bowling centers within the Bowlero/Bowlmor-AMF portolio that have suffered exactly that demise.

The people at the top of the company are not stupid.  They're not going to run actual bowlers off.  Heck, they just funded the Bowlero Elite Series and gave A LEAGUE BOWLER a first prize check of $274-thousand for beating Kyle Troup on NBC-SN, for crying out loud.  Talk about putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to supporting league bowling!

I ask you:  Why on earth would the company put up that kind of money to promote its league bowling initiative if it weren't fully behind league bowling?

I get it:  Ever since Tom Shannon's unfortunate comments to Bloomerg Television in 2014, he's gotten a reputation (well-earned, I must say) as a hater of serious bowling ("Why would anyone take bowling seriously?" was his famous quote.)  But after a partnership with the PBA, and then this huge initiative, and I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that they have another Kid's Fest planned next month to help recruit youth league bowlers (they do this twice a year), the negativity I hear from people like you just doesn't square with the evidence I see every day.

Not being combative.  Just stating what I know to be true.

It may be that they've done all those things you say.  I don't doubt you.  But I also believe that if they did them, they had a reason.  Either they saw the league numbers trending downward at those centers and saw a crash coming, or they viewed the facility as uniquely capable of catering to the party crowd that they decided makes sense to pursue in that market.  Ask yourself:  If you were going to have one or two party houses in your market, are there other centers they own that would have been better choices?  And why do you think so?


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mrbowling300

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Reply with quote  #9 
We are fortunate in the Detroit area. Plenty of places to bowl. There two of the corporate places with the couches around town, and 60 other mom and pop centers. We have only one AMF center in town as well. I enjoy bowling in the travel all star league, 30 weeks, 30 different houses, all with a unique look and character. We are pretty lucky that bowling thrives in this town.
Brownswick

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Yes you are.  And you'll be playing host to Junior Gold this July.

You really owe it to yourself to go out and take in some of the action.  You'll be amazed at how talented some of these kids are.

The schedule is up on Bowl.com.

http://usbcongress.http.internapcdn.net/usbcongress/bowl/tournaments/pdfs/usbcjuniorgoldchamp/2019/2019JGSchedule.pdf

Once I know which squad all the PRODIGY kids are bowling in, I'll post it so you can go watch 'em.

You'll also want to see some of the top kids in the nation like Solomon Salama, Anthony Neuer, Spencer Robarge, Brandon Bohn, etc.  These kids are the real deal.

And so are some of our PRODIGY kids.  I fully expect at least a couple of them to be among the top finishers.  Heck, one of our league bowlers at Bowlero Roswell is the reigning 2018 U15 GIRLS Junior Gold NATIONAL CHAMPION, Annalise O'Bryant, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if she was in the hunt to win it again this year.  She's that good.

Honestly, except for the sheer volume of bowlers (a few thousand, I believe), it's like hosting a PBA tournament.  Except it's spread over like 8 or 10 bowling centers in the area.

Must see.


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themrfreeze

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Reply with quote  #11 
Having seen what AMF has done to the houses here in town since Bowlero bought them out, I agree that you should be concerned about the future of your center.  They've kicked leagues out of every center and closed two of the six outright.  The largest AMF center in town, AMF Empire, has 64 lanes...32 upstairs, 32 downstairs.  They've been converting the higher scoring upstairs bays over to casual bowling and pushed all of the leagues (and pro shop) down to the basement. They shut down a league mid-season while the secretary was away on vacation.  Came back to bowl, only to find out he no longer had a league.  And this was a guy whose family has been bowling at Empire for over 50 years. 

The fact that they spent money upgrading your center means nothing as well (at least to me).  AMF spent a ton of cash replacing all of the pinsetters in one bay at legendary AMF Olympic one year, only to shut the whole place down less than a year later. 

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