Goshen Bowling is Alive and Well at Maple City
It’s not unusual to walk through the front doors here at Maple City Bowl at 9:30 a.m. on a weekday and be greeted by those familiar and iconic bowling alley sounds. You’ll walk in and hear the rumble of bowling balls rolling down lanes, the crash of pins, people shouting with excitement.
It may seem to some like an odd time of day for all that, but we have senior bowling leagues that start as early as 9 a.m. A lot of our senior and league bowlers have more time during the day and this is a pretty good place to be. Bowlers will finish up with their leagues and often stick around here to eat or play euchre.
We also often have young bowlers here in the mornings from Goshen High School; they come here and bowl for gym class, and we’re glad to be involved like that with the community.
Some mornings you’ll find me here catching up with an old friend of mine, and longtime Goshen resident, who sharpens our kitchen knives. He’s an old timer and bowling enthusiast, 85 years young, and if he was willing to be interviewed for something like this he’d tell some good stories; he’d probably tell the one about how his family home in Dunlap was destroyed in the Palm Sunday twin tornadoes, and he’d probably tell you he was here in this very building—at Maple City Bowl—back in 1962 when this facility became the first dedicated bowling center to open to the Goshen community.
For that grand opening they brought in professional bowlers and local bowlers, along with a bunch of kids, and had them all line up down the original 16 lanes and throw a ball at the same time. According to my friend, there was a little boy no more than seven or eight who connected with a strike on that first throw; he’d have been the first person to ever throw a strike here at Maple City Bowl.
Maple City gets new life in 2018
When I purchased the Maple City Bowl in 2018, it was barely operational. It was ready to be foreclosed; it was in very bad shape. There was no water, no working plumbing, the restrooms were nearly unusable, and there was really no kitchen to speak of.
It was in disrepair, to say the least.
I didn’t really know if it would be a good investment but there were good indicators. I’ve owned Signature Lanes in Elkhart since 2012, and I’d been fielding requests from people in this area to step in and try and turn things around at Maple City Bowl. I did my due diligence and acquired the building in 2018, and then I invested one million dollars into it.
We started out with very little business but we’ve made a lot of improvements. We have all the latest, greatest bowling technology in here, now, and this alley has become more and more a part of the Goshen community. This is really the only place like this in Goshen; where there’s a full range of family entertainment and activities, a full-service bar and lounge, and also a full restaurant.
Goshen High School students participate in gym class at Maple City Bowl.
There have been bowling alleys closing all over the country the past several years, but in my opinion it’s not due to a problem or any decreasing popularity of the sport. Things just aren’t like they used to be.
Bowling is still the most participated sporting activity in the entire world, and there is more scholarship money in bowling than all the other sports combined, and not just for college. There’s a program of the United States Bolwing Congress called SMART—which stands for Scholarship Management and Account Reporting for Tenpins. SMART helps manage scholarship funds for bowlers of all ages; and that money can be used for college scholarships or even to pay for training for trade school.
Events and parties part of the mix
These days there’s a new breed of entrepreneur acquiring bowling centers and turning them into multi-faceted entertainment venues. The ones that are doing well are the ones proactively marketing their venue for all sorts of activities, and that’s something we really push. We have band shows here, as well as DJ’s and karaoke nights. We host a lot of birthday parties, celebrations, and corporate events; we focus on every element of entertainment there is.
We also have an annual Spare Time with the Chamber event; that’s a major networking event we do every year in coordination with the Goshen Chamber of Commerce. That happens in January; it’s always a lot of fun. Bowling is just one of those activities where you can meet up with other folks and it’s always a good, fun time. It doesn’t matter if you’re four or 84, or good or not so good—that social element of the game is something that’s underrated.
A home venue for Goshen College bowling
I’m proud of what we’ve done—without Maple City Bowl there wouldn’t be much bowling to speak of in Goshen. In one of the old downtown buildings, as I understand it, there are still some old lanes leftover from an old club from back in the day, but Maple City Bowl is the place in Goshen for bowling.
Something else we’re really proud of is the fact that Maple City Bowl will be the home venue for the new Goshen College bowling teams. The men’s and women’s bowling teams, starting next fall, will be the 15th and 16th intercollegiate teams at Goshen College and will compete in the NAIA Crossroads League.
We worked very hard to turn this facility around and make it a viable and important part of the community, and we’re very thankful to the Goshen College administration and staff for this huge honor. We’re so excited, we can’t wait to host practices, events, and conference competitions.
We have 24 lanes, an occupancy of over 300, and updated automatic scoring. We’ve invested a lot to make sure that bowling is alive and well in Goshen, and to feel this strengthening community support and involvement around Maple City Bowl is truly wonderful.
Maple City Bowl is located at 1300 West Pike Street. Regular hours are Monday, and Thursday through Saturday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9. The facility is available for parties and corporate events and can be contacted at (574) 533-8564. Learn more about Maple City Bowl on their website.
Written by Jake Sandock
Original publish date Dec. 2023