With lanes duct-taped together and the floor slanted, Smith Memorial Student Union’s Viking Bowl is finally going to get a face lift.
More than a year ago, a request to make the bowling alley into a computer lab was made. After growing opposition, the appeal was tossed aside, but the necessity to renovate the basement of Smith became more apparent.
Last fall, John Eckman, assistant director of auxiliary services, began to make the idea into a reality. Although university bowling alleys went out of style for a time, they have recently had a comeback. All over the country, different colleges have renovated their alleys and Eckman felt it was time to do the same for Portland State.
A few weeks ago, members of Portland State auxiliary services and student government met with Brunswick Bowling to watch a presentation on what Viking Bowl could potentially look like. Brunswick presented a plan for the alley with features like cosmic bowling, automatic bumpers, new lighting and sound, and automatic scoring in 17 different languages. They also offered a 5 percent interest plan and are willing to do free mantience after the renewal is complete.
The renovation is estimated to cost no less than $180,000. Eckman says, though”it could be as much as $200,000 when we are done, but we are trying to whittle that down.”
At this point, the alley makes about $20,000 a year in profits, but Eckman believes that the renovation will bring in much more business, thus allowing the increased use to pay off the debt.
“The biggest concern is that at a time where there are budget cuts happening, is this the time to invest in a bowling alley, and my response to that is that its going to pay for itself,” he said.
Right now it costs $1 per person per game. These prices may go up after the renovation, however Eckman hopes to have theme nights like quarter night, where once you spend $5, everything after costs only a quarter.
This renewal will also encompass the arcade room. Although the plans aren’t as elaborate in this area, they hope to do some repainting and add paddle games, while keeping with a retro feel.
Eckman will meet again with ASPSU and then lobby to the Student Fee Committee (SFC) for a down payment. If the SFC won’t give auxiliary the money, they feel they will find it in another place.
When the renovation starts, it will take about five weeks to complete. Although there is no set finish date, Eckman says it will conservatively be open this year.
Auxiliary services has been working with student government on the renovation. ASPSU, which is backing the proposal, has a campaign to improve Smith Memorial Student Union and believes this fits the initiative perfectly. “We’re hopefully going to be donating the time and manpower,” said ASPSU Vice President Joe Johnson.
ASPSU, along with auxiliary services, has the goal of setting up more resources and activities for students who live on campus and feel the bowling alley will get them closer to their objective.
If you have any suggestions or would like to give feedback on the renovation, you can talk directly to John Eckman or attend the next Smith Advisory Board meeting in early November.