Photo by George Lauby
The prospective owners of the Cedar Bowl wanted a $500,000 grant and a $250,000 loan from the city’s development fund to renovate the landmark North Platte bowling center.They didn’t get it all.
The city’s Quality Growth Fund advisory committee approved the loan, but drastically cut the $500,000 grant to $50,000.
“It’s disappointing,” would-be owner Gary Suhr said. “It’s probably not going to work out it if stays that way.”
Suhr said he and his partners are considering what to say to the council Tuesday. They wanted to start work promptly and keep the center home owned. Suhr said they hoped for at least a $300,000-400,000 grant.
The Cedar Bowl’s lanes, bowler sitting area, ball returns and computerized scoring system all need to be replaced, according to the applicatoin put together by Lonnie and Kelly Parsons and Gary and Chris Suhr. Not only that, air conditioning units, the parking lot and the electrical system need work too, according to their application. They intended to open Aug. 20 for fall bowling leagues.
After 35 years of business, owner Scott Rasmussen closed the Cedar Bowl and Touchdown Club on May 6, citing financial concerns. The Cedar Bowl was constructed on South Jeffers in 1976. It previously operated on Rodeo Road for 20 years.
Foreseeing $3 million in acquisition and renovation costs, the Parsons and Suhrs asked for the financial boost. They submitted a 26-page prospectus that shows bowling is increasing in popularity nationwide. They also provided plans for renovation and marking, as well as projected income and expenses for five years.
Dan Mauk, the director of the Chamber and Development office, said it was “among the largest requests ever submitted. Also, the number of jobs created would be relatively few and relatively low paying.”
About 45 jobs would be involved, according to the application.
Mauk said the quality growth fund contains about $4 million, which would be plenty of money for this project.
But Mauk said the city might be smart to retain a large nest egg for development.
“We threw it all in (the entire growth fund) for the state veterans’ home last year and we still didn’t get it,” he said. “If we had another million, we probably would have.”
The advisory committee members David Fudge, Ty Lucas and Pat Keenan cast the votes. Members Dudley Oltmans and Bob Phares were absent.
A social media support group, “Save Bowling in North Platte” is trying to muster popular support for a larger grant from the city council.
Suhr said he and his partners might ask the council to increase the amount of the grant. They will consider it over the weekend.
The Parsons and Suhrs are long–time Lincoln County residents and integral forces in the Fourth St. Plaza, which is the home of Suhr’s locally owned grocery store, “Gary’s Super Foods.” Parsons put together a group that bought and renovated the plaza in 2006.
The quality growth fund comes from a small portion of city sales tax receipts that are constantly set aside for development -- grants and loans to attract businesses.