Spartan Lanes Bowling, located in the basement of Michigan State’s Student Union for more than 50 years, will close at the end of the spring 2020 semester.
Chief Communications Officer for Residential and Hospitality Services at MSU Kat Cooper provided more insight on the closing of Spartan Lanes. She did confirm that the bowling alley will close at the end of business on Friday, May 1.
“There is a number of factors that have gone into the decision to shut our Spartan Lanes and I think chief among them is that the site simply isn’t accessible,” she said. “Other factors for years now the bowling alley has seen declining business. In fact, the bowling industry has seen declining business and Spartan Lanes is no different.”
The site isn’t handicap accessible thus creating an environment that only attracts certain people.
The decision to close the bowling alley was made by the administration along with various organizations at MSU including the University Activities Board and the Union Advisory Board, according to Cooper.
She also said that it isn’t an easy job to make the bowling alley readily available to all.
“The decision was made that it’s time to take a pause and talk to students about what would be a feature more students could enjoy in the Union in that space in the years ahead," Cooper said. I think we’re all sad to see it go. It has certainly been a part of the Union experience for decades and at the same time we’re excited to see what the future holds and find some programming that meets the needs of tomorrow's students.”
Environmental studies and sustainability senior Jack Petsch has worked at Spartan Lanes since his sophomore year. He said he has a hunch the closing is due to the framework.
“Unfortunately, they haven’t told us employees a lot about it," Petsch said. "I know that there are certain issues with the infrastructure down here that make it hard to renovate it. I think that’s the main reason they are closing it down, there are renovations that need to happen and because of how old this building is, it might have an impact on how that goes."
Since there is a lot of work to be done, Petsch said money might be an issue when renovating a place like Spartan Lanes.
“I think to lose it as an opportunity for student jobs is unfortunate,” Petsch said. “Had I been here a couple more years after it closed, I would have been pretty bummed out about losing my job.”
Petsch, who works Saturday and Sunday nights, said he sees anywhere from two or three groups a night to 15 or 20. He said the busiest day ends up being Wednesday night, which is free for MSU students.
Mechanical engineering freshman Noah Mayes has only worked at Spartan Lanes for a year, yet the bowling alley's closing will still have an impact on him. Mayes said he will need to find another job.
“I still don’t want it to close because it’s a pretty chill job and a nice place to come and study,” Mayes said.
However, Mayes said he feels Spartan Lanes' closing could still be turned into something positive.
“I feel like when they do close it, they should utilize this space in another way for students to have an activity on campus whatever it may be,” Mayes said.
Spartan Lanes also holds kinesiology classes, and human biology freshman Riley Smith said she enjoyed the bowling class she took there last semester.
“It was really low pressure, it was a nice break from my harder classes," Smith said. "It was really enjoyable getting up and going there and just bowling for about an hour."
When describing the atmosphere of the bowling alley, Smith had a lot to say.
“It’s a little rustic, kind of old but it was still charming and nice," she said. "I’m glad that MSU has it because it is really unique. I feel like most colleges don’t have it.”
Smith also said that if the word about the bowling alley got out, Spartan Lanes might be a more popular destination for students.
“I think more people need to know about it because I think more people would go if it was ‘cooler,’ if it was more appealing to people," she said. "And I’m sure a lot of the students just don’t know it’s there."
Spartan Lanes' hours are from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and free for all MSU students on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to midnight.