The T.J. Clark family has something new to do after work and school. They purchased a bowling alley — the former Cottonwood Bowl facility.
T.J. was known for his skating abilities as a teen growing up in the area and he managed the old skating rink for a time. But he also loves to bowl.
“This is a great building,” he said. “It’s been here more than 50 years and we’ve brought it out of the 70s.”
Clark has worked on the technical side of FedEx Freight for 21 years and will continue his day job. But after work, he and the family have been removing paneling, painting and cleaning at night. He travels to Minnesota next week to learn the mechanics of the 1960s AMF equipment.
“When the bowling alley first became available for sale, other buyers were very excited until they went to the back and saw the mechanics of the equipment. That completely scared them off,” he said. “But I love to work on old cars and the equipment fascinates me and I’m excited about getting all the lanes running smoothly.”
Twelve lanes out of 20 are working well. “That’s why I need to take the training they offer only one time a year. We want to get all 20 lanes working great,” he said.
The Clarks purchased the building on April 30, and will complete the remodel inside after a new roof is in place. Permits and licensing is taking a while as well as bringing everything up to current codes. But they are excited and hope to be open in the early fall.
“The opening will be too late for official league play, but we can have some unofficial groups playing every week,” Nicole said. “We’ve reached out to Robin Reeves and her group and they are excited about bowling again. Plus we want to reach out to Camp Jack and make it available to veterans.” They have also spoken to some schools about bowling leagues for students.
For young beginners a big plastic dinosaur ramp helps guide the ball down the lane. A new family restroom has been built to be wheelchair accessible. Bowling balls and rental shoes are still part of the experience, as well.
T.J. is also quite an artist and is in the process of completing murals on the walls. Indoor lights can be turned off and the bowling alley instantly becomes a black-light “Cosmic Bowl” time of fun. “We’ve put in a new sound system, too,” he said.
The Clark family hoped to be open in June or July. But until all the permits are in place, they can’t officially be open. They have hosted some private parties for family and friends and the comments were great. Kolby, 13, had some friends in to bowl to celebrate his birthday. “We want to keep the equipment moving, so the boys have done a lot of practicing while we wait to open.” Ten year old Chase threw a strike so the inside workings of the back could be viewed during the tour.
Twenty wooden pins coated in plastic are positioned at each lane. Each pin is moved into position and ready to be dropped as a set when all 10 pins are in place. A special door opens in the side of the system where the ball rolls into place and is sent back to the front of the lane.
“The kitchen has been completely remodeled and will have two restaurant vendors serving food-truck style fast food, — this is Nicole’s area of expertise.” he laughed.
We are all about family entertainment,” T.J. said. The non-smoking facility is clean, fresh and ready to provide some fun times for the public. There are a couple of large rooms in the front of the building where four new pool tables and arcade games have been placed. A local professional cornhole group contacted the Clarks to see if there is room for cornhole tournaments — and the answer was Yes! So there are lots of options for fun, family entertainment at Oddball Bowl.
Watch the newspaper and their Facebook page to see when they are opening. Oddball Bowl is located at 116 Hwy. 43 East and the phone number will be 870-741-6056 when they open.