AMF Bowling Worldwide will close a second bowling center in the Sacramento region, Alpine Valley Lanes, on Florin Road.
Woodhaven Lanes closed July 12 in Woodland. The last day for Alpine Valley will be Aug. 26.
"It all comes down to traffic, the number of people coming in," said Merrell Wreden, AMF's vice president of marketing. " ... It's not performing."
Outside Alpine Valley last week, league bowlers told me that much more goes into their choice of bowling alley than meets the eye. They didn't always find consistent oil patterns in Alpine Valley's lanes or big enough purses from its leagues.
Recreational bowlers, on the other hand, said they were seeking entertainment beyond bowling – laser tag, arcades, live music, for instance. Alpine lacked the bells and whistles of many newer bowling alleys.
Alpine Valley is one of about 15 centers closed by AMF this year. Wreden doesn't see the closures as a sign that bowling has waned in popularity.
"We have successful centers all over the country, so I don't think it's a trend," he said. "I think what happens is there may be competitive situations. There may be demographic shifts."
Michael Halchak, a Standard & Poor's credit analyst whose job includes watching companies in the bowling sector, has a different view: "There's been somewhat of a secular decline within bowling. That, coupled with the economic recession that we saw in that 2008 period, have reduced consumer discretionary income, and people's inability to spend has put pressure on the revenue generation ... of bowling centers throughout the U.S."
S&P and Moody's Investors Services have questioned whether AMF's profitability is strong enough to allow it to successfully refinance hundreds of millions of dollars in debt due next year. The privately held AMF, based near Richmond, Va., retained the investment banker Moelis & Co. last year to help it explore a sale.
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