Citing changing times and ‘growing losses,’ KU announces Jaybowl will close

Kansas University freshman Darious Crawley, Houston, Texas, rolls down the lane during a bowling class on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at Jaybowl. The bowling alley, which has been around since 1953, will close in early May.

Jaybowl, located in the Kansas Union since 1953, will close for good in early May.

The closing is due to “growing losses, escalating down time and new space needs,” according to Kansas University Memorial Unions, which announced the news Monday.

“The student preferences are changing,” said Claudia Larkin, director of marketing for KU Memorial Unions. “As students’ tastes change, the Union is trying to adapt how it uses its spaces.”

Bins filled with shoes await bowlers on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at Jaybowl in the Kansas Union.

Jaybowl lost an average of $17,000 per year over the past five years, Larkin said. She said only about 21,000 people a year use the Jaybowl now, compared to about 35,000 a decade ago.

The Jaybowl area will be repurposed into an event space for activities such as live music, comedians and open mic nights, Larkin said.

Jaybowl renovations will accompany renovations to the entire main level of the Union, which opens onto Mississippi Street, Larkin said. The area will close over the summer and reopen this fall.

Larkin said the Level 1 repurposing project was based on student input about the kinds of services they want to see the Union provide.

Besides Jaybowl, the main level currently houses the Hawk’s Nest Lounge, featuring study spaces and televisions, as well as a now-closed Milton’s coffee shop. Larkin said renovations will make the area more open, cohesive and attractive to Mississippi Street traffic.

Ultimately, there may be a pub and grill there. Larkin said that as Level 1 reopens as an event space the Union plans to work through the “University process” to pursue the establishment of a pub and grill there in the future.

Jaybowl’s last day of operation will be May 9, and a number of festivities are planned.

“We plan to send the Jaybowl out in style and commemorate what a neat place it has been on campus,” Larkin said. Renovation plans also call for some type of tribute to Jaybowl, “so we don’t forget that history as we repurpose for new student needs.”

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