Student center

Leaving the Lanes: Cardinal Lanes at Ball State Student Center closed until further notice

Cardinal Lanes was one of the main attractions at Ball State’s LA Pittenger Student Center. Walk in anytime and chances are you’ll find a group of students playing billiards or bowling on the lanes. He has been a staple at Ball State events like Late Nite, College Program Council, and team ties for sorority groups and clubs.

However, Travis Peters, associate director of the Student Center, said the attraction was having technical difficulties. This has led to many hurdles for it to remain open to students and faculty. About four years ago, the mechanic that Peters and his staff had hired for several years passed away. On top of that, Peters said, the equipment used in the hallways was getting old.

“[The equipment] is original when installed, since the 1970s, so finding parts and then having someone fix it becomes very difficult for us,” Peters said.

Peters and Maureen Baker, director of the Student Center, had discussed possible repair alternatives and what this space could be used for if Cardinal Lanes were permanently closed. He said they agreed to temporarily close the attraction in the middle of the fall 2021 semester, and it officially closed in December during finals week. They don’t know when it will reopen.

In addition to repair difficulties, Peters said, COVID-19 has weighed on the operation of Cardinal Lanes.

“About 100,000 visits [per year] were recorded by the facility’s pre-COVID door counters, but once COVID hit, that number obviously took a pretty significant hit,” Peters said. “Last year [post-COVID]we were just over 60,000 in the number of visits to this space.

Kristin McKeen, a junior elementary education major, was a student employed at Cardinal Lanes from October 2020 to September 2021. She said she expected the lanes to close because most of the time she was there, only two or three lanes would work out of eight.

“I think it’s best that the Student Center decides to temporarily close the lanes because there were so many customer complaints,” McKeen said. “Understaffing and technical difficulties were the main reasons why we were unable to operate the majority of routes.”

Wednesday Cunnington, Cardinal Lanes client and 2005 Ball State General Studies alumnus, said her experiences with Cardinal Lanes were filled with memories. She hosted a few birthday parties and her best friend’s annual family reunion three times in the back alleys in the early 2000s.

Cunnington said it also felt the safest compared to other local bowling alleys in the area.

“I chose Cardinal Lanes over the others because of its size. It’s perfect for parties and social gatherings,” Cunnington said via email. “Do not put the other [bowling alleys] down, but it just felt safer, especially for a younger clientele and for those bringing young children.”

Cunnington also said she was sad to know Cardinal Lanes was temporarily closed because her son, Matthew Williams, now 31, enjoyed the attraction when he was younger. Also, when Cunnington was a student at Ball State, she said she loved going there with her friends.

“I’m sad it’s closed because as a former BSU student it was somewhere my friends and I could go and was close – we didn’t have to go off campus to go bowling “Cunnington said. “It was clean and never noisy. It’s something different for students, plus a bar or restaurant to hang out.

Contact Jamie Strouts with comments at [email protected].