Skip to content

Lanes at the Playdium on Ontario Street

December 16, 2010

by Nicholas Zarrelli

Playdium Bowling Center, at 363 Ontario St., is the last public bowling alley in the Albany city limits. As a part of the Pine Hills neighborhood, Playdium Bowling Center has held consistent league play, along with its nightly specials and involvement with the area schools to remain open for business.

The bowling alley originally opened in 1940. Neil Luther, the current owner and operator of Playdium, purchased the business from its original owners in 1983 and has been running it ever since. Open from noon to midnight through the week and staying open until 1 a.m. on the weekends, Playdium has been able to attract and hold business from area students, as well as local residents. “We get approximately 100 people coming in daily,” said Luther. “It’s a mix of all ages.”

Luther said that the Playdium has outlasted three other bowling alleys in the Albany city limits. They were: Schades

Lanes at the Playdium on Ontario Street (Nicholas Zarrelli)

on Ontario Street, Action Lanes on Benjamin Street, and Albany Bowling Center on Watervliet Ave Extension.

The standard prices at Playdium are $3.75 per game, and $2 to rent a pair of bowling shoes. The specials run on Tuesday through Thursday every week, with $2 games and $1 for shoe rental. There is also an option for unlimited bowling for $6, which lasts until midnight. There are 28 lanes in the Center, all functioning and equipped with bumpers for the inexperienced bowlers.

Like most bowling alleys, Playdium has a snack bar and also a wet bar. Luther said the bar is not the primary moneymaker, and the bar profit is not exceptional, but stable. “We don’t encourage excessive drinking,” said Luther.

Playdium Bowling Center employs 15 people, four of which are full time. They run the snack bar, the wet bar, the front desk and take care of the cleaning and general maintenance work a bowling alley requires. This includes oiling the lanes, as well as replacing equipment when it comes time. Mike Lucey has been working there for approximately 40 years, and he is the man in charge of these duties every day until 5 pm. “I take care of the lanes, make sure they’re oiled. I also run the front desk,” said Lucey. Running the front desk also involves dealing with the used rental shoes.

“We spray all of the shoes with disinfectant spray when they are returned,” said Luther. “We check for wear and replace as needed.” Luther also takes care of the paperwork and bookkeeping in the office.

Along with the everyday bowlers, Playdium is home to approximately 25 bowling leagues. They have league bowling every night of the week, and Luther allows them to establish their own rules and scoring. “The leagues are a key part of business,” said Luther. These leagues take place just after Labor Day and run until the middle of April. The bowling center is only open three days a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day, on Tuesday from noon to midnight, Wednesday from 5pm until midnight and Saturday from 6 pm to 1 am. During the regular season they are open seven days a week, but the center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, and Easter.

Though Playdium has outlasted the other area bowling alleys, they still feel the ramifications of the bad economy. “The recession had quite a bit of impact on us. We kept the special nights going to generate more business,” said Luther.

According to Luther, the closest bowling alley in the area is nearly five to six miles away. They have outlasted all of the other alleys and have done so with the help of advertising in the Metroland weekly alternative Newspaper, on the Internet and in the area schools. Whether the colleges or high schools in the area are holding fundraisers, Playdium makes sure to treat their student population very well. They even offer group rates for the students. “A lot of college kids are regulars,” said Luther. “They respect the place and we respect them.”

The Albany High School men’s and women’s bowling teams hold their home matches at Playdium and have been there since the 1980’s. Nancy Madsen, the women’s coach, noted that the bowling alley holds a very friendly environment with all familiar faces. “It’s locally owned, so they take pride in their establishment,” said Madsen. “They treat us very well.” The women’s and men’s bowling teams hold their season from the middle of November until the beginning of February. See related story on The Pines Hills blog here:

Luther said that when a problem occurs with equipment, they contact a bowling alley distributor that specializes in shoes, house balls, and parts for the machines used to oil the lanes. As far as upgrading the equipment, Luther said that it’s an ongoing process.

This process seems to work very smoothly, as Playdium Bowling Center plans on remaining the last standing bowling alley in the City of Albany for years to come. Though once for sale, Luther has decided to take the Center off the market. However, Luther said any offers would be entertained at any time. -30-


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: