Strikezone, a new and improved bowling alley, will open this weekend

Gabe Lemuz of FM 107.5 bowls one of the first strikes at the newly renovated Strikezone.

EL CENTRO – In May 2016, Brunswick XL abruptly announced the closure of their bowling alley, leaving the Imperial Valley community blindsided and the building left to sit where it stood without a word on its future.

Almost a year later, the bowling alley will reopen August 5 under the new name of Strikezone, according to Arturo Santos, executive director of the ARC group, an Imperial Valley nonprofit who now owns the bowling alley.

Santos said the bowling alley fills a gaping hole in Valley entertainment options, particularly for families. In the past, the facility was known for catering to all ages, and in its absence, it was difficult for people to find something suitable to replace it.

“We want to make this a nice, family place,” said Santos.

One of the ARC board members, Susan Wilcox, said she enjoyed bringing her daughter to Brunswick when it was open. It was disheartening when one of the few places that could entertain the whole family closed, she said.

“It was very disappointing as a parent to see one more family venue closing its doors,” said Wilcox. “Hopefully we’ll be successful in providing entertainment for the community.”

El Centro business members contacted Santos in January with a proposal to lease out the restaurant section of the building. However, Santos made his own proposal to purchase the entire building, and they agreed.

The whole building has been upgraded with the latest technology and will be ready when it opens next weekend. The arcade, now run by NAMCO, will have new updated games, as well as a new laser tag system. Mozzarelli’s Pizza, another franchise owned by ARC, will move from its location next to Vons in El Centro to the bowling alley.

Meridith Wilcox is one of many children who used to come to the bowling alley before it closed.

Santos said new employees have been hired and several former Brunswick workers have been brought back.

ARC is professionally training employees and he assured the public that customer service problems that plagued Brunswick in the past (such as lane side help or having only one employee for all of the bowling lanes) will not be repeated.

Strikezone will have a soft opening August 5 this weekend from to 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.