"Back Alley" Leagues


Sports and Game Leagues of any type are tremendous fun and very worthwhile. In past days, many people who were serious about their games might set up leagues for Scrabble, Cribbage, Monopoly, or even the older sports board games like Strat-o-Matic Baseball and Tudor's NFL Strategy, just to name a couple. All that was needed to make leagues successful was a common location and the board game itself.

Bowling leagues are a great way to get a group of people together to have fun, get in some good exercise, and interact with each other. A "Back Alley" league combines the best of both worlds. "Back Alley" lends itself well to leagues for bowling, because it's a "larger than life" version of a fun board game that is a practical replica of what you can find in an established bowling alley.

Bowling leagues are the main revenue generator for a bowling establishment, because leagues are basically 'contracts' with a bowling center for a group of people to reserve, and pay for, the use of bowling lanes for an extended period of time, ranging anywhere from 8 weeks to 40 weeks.

With "Back Alley", there's the potential for all kinds of leagues because there are all kinds of groups.

  • Senior Leagues
  • Wheelchair Leagues
  • School Leagues
  • Day Care Leagues
  • Neighborhood Leagues
  • Office Leagues
  • Firemen Leagues
  • YMCA/YWCA Leagues

League "Money", and How it can Relate to a "Back Alley" League

If you join a league at a bowling center, as a member you'll pay a weekly fee to bowl in the league. Each league has an agreement with the bowling alley in which part of this weekly fee goes to the bowling establishment, and the rest goes toward league expenses and a prize fund. Expenses are usually in the form of paying a salary to individuals that might volunteer to be a league officer. The non-paid positions are generally the president and vice president, whereas the paid officers are the league treasurer (handling the prize money at a bank for the duration of the league) and the league secretary (keeps track of team staistics like wins and losses, individual averages, and producing the weekly reports).

A standard rate that the modern-day bowling center might charge a league under normal circumstances is something like $12.00 per league player each week. So this is the way the bowling center itself makes money on leagues. If a league has 30 people, then over the course of a 35 week season, a bowling center might make $12,600.00 (30 people x $12.00 x 35 weeks) on the one league. This is a great deal for the bowling center because it's guaranteed money, as opposed to hoping that they get the consistent walk-in business for a specific time slot for 35 weeks.

Revenue Example for a "Back Alley" League

With a "Back Alley" league of maybe 18 people (6 teams of 3 players), a weekly fee for each member for a 12-week league could be something like $10.00, in which $3.00 could go towards the monthly rental of the unit. $3.00 x 18 people x 4 weeks (1 month) would be $216.00. (It might be good to have 2-game matches for a "Back Alley" league, and maybe 6 frames per game instead of the traditional 10-frame format. But these are just suggestions).

With the above example being a 6-team league, your facility could schedule the 3 team matches between the 6 teams each week in different time slots during a day, and maybe have different leagues on 3 days of the week. Then when factoring the example $216.00 hosting fee per league x 3 leagues, your revenue is $648.00 per month. And if the 'league idea' were to become a hit, you could also consider scheduling periodic tournaments to create even more income.

In regard to senior citizen leagues at the established bowling centers, it's not uncommon for a senior player to be a member in 3 leagues during the week, so several "Back Alley" leagues in one week is certainly feasible.

Other Expenses in the Weekly Fee

It would be a good idea to allocate something like $1.50 per player's weekly fee to "hire" a local younger person to set the pins. It would be creating a job for a 'pin boy'/'pin girl', and it would be a benefit for senior players.

With the weekly hosting fee in the above example at $3.00 and the "pin-setting" fee of $1.50 totalling $4.50, it still leaves $5.50 per bowler per week to go the league prize, less any fee for the activity director to handle the banking and the overall scoring (there's a fabulous "SOFTWARE" option for the weekly score-keeping that is bundled for free with a "Back Alley" rental).