Addition to bowling alley: Schwean has big plans for leisure centre

May 5, 2014 9:04 am
Kevin Weedmark

In the couple of months since the town of Moosomin decided to take over the local bowling alley, rec director Mike Schwean has come up with big plans for the facility.

He originally proposed adding a golf dome to the bowling alley to increase use of the building, and now envisions an entire leisure centre added to the bowling alley.

The 5,000 square foot building would include a walking track, sports simulators, golf driving nets, an indoor batting cage, an indoor hockey net and shooting area, and some training equipment.

There would also be a lounge area and an outdoor deck or patio area.

“We would be looking at a 5,000 square foot building, something that would almost mirror the bowling alley,” says Schwean. He feels the facility could be built fairly inexpensively—with a cost in the neighborhood of $350,000.

“We have the plumbing in the bowling alley, and because we’re just adding on, we won’t have to put in any plumbing. People would come in through the existing entrance in the bowling alley, they would pay there, so in the addition you wouldn’t need much work inside the building.

“When you’re not doing a lot of plumbing, or interior walls, it makes it way cheaper to build,” says Schwean. “There’s the equipment, of course, but the building itself should be pretty basic.”

The walking track around the outside of the building would be made of a rubberized material to cushion walkers’ legs from impact, and the flooring in the main part of the building would be grass-green carpeting to give it the look of a sports field.

Schwean is in discussions with several companies that may provide the funds to build the leisure centre.

“We’re dealing with four or five different corporate sponsors,” he said. “We’re hoping we may have some funding fairly soon.

“Our intention is to not spend any tax dollars on this. When we’ve approached these different companies, they are showing a lot of interest, and that makes me think we can do this with corporate funding.”

There is also a plan to grow a crop as a fundraiser for the leisure centre, with Chris Mannle and Jeff Warkentin taking the lead on the crop project.

The entire idea of the leisure centre came up in the last few months when the town agreed to take over the bowling centre from the committee that ran it since it was built.

Opened in 1996, the bowling alley was operated successfully for years by the committee, but in the end the group found it difficult to staff the facility.

In January of this year, the bowling committee approached town council about the town taking on the bowling alley, and the town and the committee quickly came to an agreement.

Schwean said that, as soon as it became apparent earlier this year that the town may end up with the bowling alley, he started trying to come up with ideas to bring more people into the facility.

Initially he thought a small golf dome added to the bowling alley would bring more people through the door, and as different people came up with more ideas, the plan grew to the current leisure centre concept.

“Everybody will have to go through the bowling alley to get to the leisure centre, so I’m sure it will kickstart the bowling alley, giving it that much more exposure, and having that many more people around.

“The problem with the bowling alley was they couldn’t afford someone to be there all the time, so they couldn’t take walk-ins.

“Between the leisure centre and the bowling alley, we could have someone at the front all the time, so there can be league bowling, but if someone wants to come down and try out the sports simulators, then bowl a couple of games they will be able to. I’m sure it will be crazy busy in winter.”

Rather than simply installing golf simulators, Schwean envisions sports simulators with 10 different sports on them.

The idea has been well received so far.

“People are pretty excited about it,” says Schwean. “I haven’t heard one negative thing—everyone loves the idea.

“The winters are so long we’re trying to have enough things to have something for everyone, whether immigrants or retirees or kids.”

Schwean says the facility could host everything from golf lessons to staff parties to youth group outings to meetings.

“We can run everything from the bowling alley side,” he said. “I honestly think it will triple the use of the bowling alley. We probably get 50,000 people through the Communiplex in a winter, and if you have a bunch of kids waiting to play their next game in a hockey tournament, I think you would get a lot of them heading over there and making use of the facility.

“It will be a regional facility, so everything we do, the cost will be the same for out-of-towners.”

Schwean has an ambitious timeframe for getting the leisure centre up and running.

“I think it could be a year, but it could be longer,” he said. “I would hope to have it ready for the winter of 2015.”

He said input is welcome. “The walking track idea came from community, and I think it’s a great idea. If people have more ideas, they can let us know. There might be more ideas out there that are great ideas that I just never thought of.”