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Who is ready to go bowling on campus?

By Chris Hogan
On April 11, 2012

For the past 12 years, the campus bowling alley located in the John J. Cox Student Center has been an eyesore and unattended to. Now as this spring semester comes to a close, there is a possibility that the bowling alley could be the next project on UB's agenda this year. 

The idea of reviving the bowling alley came after Student Government Association (SGA) Chief Finance Officer Chris Frost who had a vision before he graduated to help improve the entertainment on campus. With the assistance from George Estrada, Vice President of Facilities, the two have been collaborating on a game plan to find the best way possible to create a viable budget to make this project work.

"It was something that was my special project that I took when I joined SGA is to try to get the bowling alley open," Frost said. "If students want it open and if we can show the administrators that we want it open, theoretically, we can get it open for the fall."

In order to fully expense this massive project, Estrada said that the entire scheme would cost a little under $200,000, right around $185,000 based on a quote he recently received. The proposal includes spending $130,000 refurbishing existing equipment and other aspects of the space. It includes a new drop ceiling and floors, a brand new ball return and electronic scoring along with any other construction needed to get the place on par to open.   

"We really have been able to reduce that by half of the anticipated cost it would have previous times that we tried to do this," Estrada said. "What we are looking at now, is that I have to prepare a budget and business plan for this to be able to present to the president so that we can ultimately consider sources of funding for the project."

When the student center was built in the 1960s, the bowling alley was used sparingly then and throughout the 1970s before closing until the late 1980s. 

One UB alumni that played a vital role in revitalizing the bowling alley after many years on a hiatus was Brett Silberman. Silberman, who attended UB from 1988-1992, was a lifelong entrepreneur who decided with the help of his fellow classmate Steve Curry and friends/family to raise some money to restore and bring back the bowling alley. With that, he was able to raise $35,000 and the administration at the time agreed to a deal.

"We opened it up [during the Fall 1989 semester] and basically made it very inexpensive with the games and [we] were doing sorority nights, pajama nights and Greek weeks with as many as 50-60 showing up a night," Silberman said in a phone interview. "It started going really well being it was really the only thing on campus at the time."

Towards the end of the spring 1992 semester, the bowling alley closed due to financial problems and funding. Then in 1994, a gentleman named Geno Bizweski ran the place known as "Geno's Bowling Alley" through early 1996. Cost back then was $2.00 per game or three games for $5. It wasn't until late 1997 that the bowling alley would be used one last time occasionally before shutting down for good in early 2000 due to mechanical and funding issues.

In order for students to benefit from this project there have been different scenarios discussed so that bowling on campus wouldn't be costly. A package of renting bowling shoes and three games for around $10 would be cheaper than going to a local place and spending close to $40 for two people and two games according to Frost. There is a possibility that an NCAA bowling team could be formed at UB if this project is completed.

"The student body complains a lot that there isn't much to do [on campus] and with the bowling alley, there is going to be something to do if it's opened," Frost said. "It's something that not many schools have on campus and it would really be beneficial to the students here."


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