It had been about 10 years since Marina Avila visited the bowling alley on Riverside’s Indiana Avenue.
“It wasn’t bad,” the 25-year-old Lake Mathews woman said. But, like a lot of bowling alleys, it was just, well, boring.
“There wasn’t any pop before, no color,” Avila said.
There is now.
Walk through the front door of newly renovated Bowlero Riverside — the former AMF Riverside Lanes — and one is taken aback by the giant, colorful video screens on the walls, 40 lanes that glow under soothing black lights and bright orange lights that illuminate new soft-lounge seating. Similar renovations have been undertaken or are underway at other Bowlero-owned bowling alleys across the Inland Empire.
Bowlero Riverside will celebrate its extreme high-tech makeover with a “launch party” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8.
“It almost looks like water when you look at the lanes,” said Jeff Varney, a Bowlero district manager who oversees 16 company-operated bowling alleys in Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Riverside resident Kitty Peterson, who used to bowl in a league there but hadn’t visited in a while until this week, said, “It reminds me of when we used to come for cosmic bowling.”
Avila, who was on a bowling date with 21-year-old Josh Dean of San Diego on Wednesday, Sept. 5, was impressed with the high-definition video. The only thing missing, she suggested, was an NFL game on one of the screens.“I would like it if the (Baltimore) Ravens were playing right now,” she said.
Avila and other football fans will get their wish this fall, Bowlero officials say.
General Manager Rob Ballog said live sports broadcasts are a big part of the new bowling environment. The alley showed six college football games the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, he said.
Pro football games will be featured Sundays, Ballog said. Also, he said, bowlers can expect to see a lot of the Angels, Dodgers, Rams and Chargers.
Then late at night, after 9 p.m., Ballog said, music videos will fill the big screens. Cartoons will air Saturday and Sunday mornings, he said, and classic family movies will run at other times.
Ballog said special arrangements for video showings can be made upon request for special events such as birthday parties and corporate outings.
The $1.2 million reconstruction of the 36,000-square-foot facility began in October and wrapped up over the summer, Varney said.
Besides installing new lanes, mounting screens, and changing out lights and seats, Bowlero added a modern arcade featuring 28 games, Ballog said. Those games include “The Walking Dead,” “Dead Storm Pirates” and “Mario Kart.” And there is a sports bar.
Bowlero Corp. — formerly Bowlmor AMF — owns more than 300 bowling alleys across the nation and is in the midst of modernizing aging centers, Varney said. So far, more than 50 have been given a makeover like the one in Riverside.
“We’ll have 60 by the end of the year,” he said.
Peterson, who was bowling with 29-year-old son, Tim, a visitor from Lake Tahoe with his young family, said she likes the changes.
“I love the TVs — everything,” she said.
Bowling alleys used to be “dull and dingy” for the most part, Peterson said. But one can’t say that about the remodeled recreation center on Indiana Avenue.
“When we walked in we were like, ‘Wow!’” she said.