June 17, 2018

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Academy Lanes to have a ball on St. Matthews

Business plans 'next level' with more entertainment

Boris Minkevich / Free Press files</p><p>The Academy Lanes building was originally the Uptown Theatre. The theatre opened in 1931.</p>

Boris Minkevich / Free Press files

The Academy Lanes building was originally the Uptown Theatre. The theatre opened in 1931.

Academy Lanes will soon be setting up the pins for their next frame.

The five-pin bowling alley, which has been a landmark on Academy Road for almost 60 years, announced Thursday on social media it has secured a new location.

The Winnipeg business is set to take over a major portion of a 40,000-square-foot building on a site that stretches from Ellice Avenue to St. Matthews Avenue (which also houses a Dollarama and Bianca Amor’s Liquidation Supercentre on the Ellice side).

The rebranded Uptown Alley is expected to be ready for bowlers by July.

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Academy Lanes will soon be setting up the pins for their next frame.

The five-pin bowling alley, which has been a landmark on Academy Road for almost 60 years, announced Thursday on social media it has secured a new location.

The Winnipeg business is set to take over a major portion of a 40,000-square-foot building on a site that stretches from Ellice Avenue to St. Matthews Avenue (which also houses a Dollarama and Bianca Amor’s Liquidation Supercentre on the Ellice side).

The rebranded Uptown Alley is expected to be ready for bowlers by July.

"It’s kind of a dream come true for us. After we found out we wouldn’t be able to stay in our original location, we knew we wanted to stay in the industry," said Todd Britton, whose family has owned the business for more than three decades.

"This is an industry that we really enjoy and we were determined to find a spot where we could continue operating. We wanted to stay as close as possible to our original location.

"We’ve been eyeing this spot for quite a while."

The new location (1301 St. Matthews Ave.) will bring new changes to the alley, which will see the services on offer ramped up. While the old location functioned as a traditional bowling alley, Academy Lanes 2.0 will feature a number of new entertainment options.

"We’re really taking our business to the next level. There will be 30 lanes of bowling, laser tag, an arcade, a lounge and restaurant. To be competitive in the entertainment industry, you really need to offer more," Britton said.

Despite the extensive changes, Britton made it clear bowling will always be at the heart of the operation.

"We’re not just moving, we’re also upgrading our offerings and our business, but bowling will always be first," he said.

Last summer, Academy Lanes announced its last game would be bowled at 394 Academy Road on July 18 — citing increasing property values in the neighbourhood that made continuing economically untenable.

However, following an outpouring of community support, the closing date was pushed until fall.

In September, staff began packing up the place, but it has remained open.

Britton thinks the new location is the perfect sweet spot: a 10-minute drive from the original location and near Polo Park shopping centre.

He’s hopeful it’s close enough that longtime regulars will follow them, while also funneling in a new customer base from the nearby mall.

The site is one block over from the former site of Empress Lanes, a 10-pin bowling alley that stood for decades at the corner of St. Matthews Avenue and Empress Street.

"We’re really excited to be joining this community. We think it’s a really vibrant place. There’s a lot going on there and we think we can draw a lot of people into this area, too," Britton said.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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History

Updated on Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 4:02 PM CDT: Clarifies location of building.

4:44 PM: Updated

March 30, 2018 at 8:56 AM: Typo fixed.

March 31, 2018 at 8:17 AM: Edited

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