To the delight of league bowlers, Sunset Bowling Center is reopening in mid-August.
Michael Oertel, a former professional bowler with ties to Spokane, is buying the Coeur d’Alene landmark for an undisclosed sum.
Oertel also owns Danville Bowl in Danville, Calif., a 24-lane bowling alley that averages 6,000 bowlers per week. According to Oertel, it’s one of the busiest in the state in terms of open play games per lane.
Sunset Bowling closed in 2004, when former owner William G. Jones Sr. filed for bankruptcy. The bowling alley was sold to North Idaho developer Bill Radobenko and his wife, Julie, who wanted to find an operator to reopen it.
“They did that to save it from being turned into office space,” said Mike Piper, a Realtor who worked with them to market the property. “Julie’s an avid bowler, and she just put her foot down.”
Post Falls and Hayden have bowling alleys, but the Sunset was Coeur d’Alene’s last bowling alley.
Piper, an avid bowler himself, spent four months looking for a buyer. He sent out packets to 650 bowling alleys in the western U.S. and to 1,500 bowling associations across the country. Oertel responded.
About 1,500 league bowlers used Sunset Bowl before it closed. It’s a well-kept center with good business potential, Oertel said.
Oertel grew up in Spokane. After competing in the Professional Bowling Association, he purchased Danville Bowl, a struggling bowling alley in the Bay Area. Within two years, Oertel said he had doubled the revenues.
He credited the turnaround to a sophisticated laser light show that he plans to replicate in Coeur d’Alene. “It’s better than any music concert in the Oakland Coliseum,” Oertel said.
Oertel’s dad, Vern, is moving back to the area to help manage Sunset Bowl. The facility will employ about 30 people.
The bowling alley at 202 W. Sunset Ave. will reopen on Aug. 15. League play begins on Sept. 5. People interested in signing up for a league can contact Piper at (208) 651-5008 or contact league manager Lee Zimmerman at (208) 651-8431. Sunset Bowling’s new number, which is still being connected, will be (208) 676-BOWL.