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Throwback Thursday: We Strode the Lanes Together

The Campus Center Lanes were a bustling locale when this photo was taken in 1975. (Photo Courtesy of UAlbany Archives

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 31, 2017) — During the years of World War II, bowling had become such a popular intramural sport that, in September of 1944, when President John Sayles envisioned a new gymnasium for the school, his plans called for six bowling lanes in addition to a "full-sized basketball court" and swimming pool.

Alas, the new gym would not come along until there was a new campus in 1964, and bowling wouldn't be included there. But arrive it did, with not six but 12 lanes, in the Campus Center, in June of 1966. Intramural leagues, which had more than 10 teams competing, were moved there starting Nov. 4, 1967. They had previously been held at such Albany public lanes as Schade's Bowling Academy (now gone) and the Playdium (still standing on Ontario Street).

For more than a decade, the Campus Center Lanes bustled, a popular morning and afternoon site for students to fulfill the SUNY physical education requirement. UAlbany architecture created a charming, if frustrating, idiosyncrasy: pillars between lanes 2-3 and 8-9 caused lefties to alter their approaches on the former and righties on the latter.

UAlbany bowling

A UAlbany kegler shows his style at Schade’s Bowling Academy in Albany in 1947.  

Usage even included a faculty-staff league in the late '70s and early '80s, with the physics department filling two of the 6 teams. UAS employee Nels Swart kept the lanes in tip-top shape, aided by and eventually succeeded by alumnus Mark Fisher.

But circumstances altered the lanes' fate in the '80s. The physical education requirement ended. The drinking age was raised and smoking was outlawed, stifling alley ambiance. In 1994 the lanes were decommissioned, the equipment and even the lanes salvaged, in order to make way for the new home of Student Financial Services.

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