FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Jan. 23, 2020) -- The lanes are open once again at Fort Drum's Pine Plains Bowling Center after a three-month hiatus, during which the facility underwent a $1.1 million renovation project.
Now, it is the only bowling center in New York that offers HyperBowl - a state-of-the-art system that combines bowling with an arcade-like experience. Pine Plains is also the only facility across the U.S. Army where each of its 24 lanes is compatible with this new game.
"This is like playing a live video game," said Michelle Winter, Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing manager. "But until you actually play it, you truly don't get the full understanding of what this is."
Unlike the traditional bowling, there's no chance of throwing a gutter ball. The HyperBowl bumper system requires bowlers to either hit or avoid moving colored lights along the sides of the lane, while still attempting to knock down the set of pins.
Jennifer Berry, FMWR special events coordinator, said that HyperBowl will appeal to bowlers of all ages.
"I like bowling. But this is like next-level bowling," she said. "This would keep my kids' attention the entire time with all the lights and different games."
Some game options are even tailored for young bowlers, such as "Monster Factory," where points earned while bowling go toward building a cartoon monster on the video screen.
"It's really easy to learn," Berry said. "You just pick the game you want to play and the screen tells you what you need to do. I think it took me two minutes to figure out HyperBowl. This is literally a game-changer for bowling."
The touchscreen console at each lane allows people to choose the type of game they want to play, but it also has fun, interactive features.
"You can send texts to your friends at another lane, or take a selfie and post it up on the video monitor above the lane," Berry said.
In addition to the new HyperBowl system, the renovations included the installation of new subflooring and flooring, carpeting, an overhaul of the electrical system, new audio-video equipment and a fresh coat of paint.
Melisa Gibbs, Pine Plains manager, said that they were grateful for the support from Fort Drum Public Works during the renovation, which was completed ahead of schedule and within budget. Public Works was credited with removing all of the old equipment, tearing down the old lanes and the flooring down to its concrete foundation, and repainting the walls, with a cost savings of roughly $68,000.
"It was PW to the rescue," Gibbs said. "They came in and worked around our schedule, and they did so much for us. I don't think we would be where we are right now without their help."
While the staff was being trained on the new HyperBowl system, Gibbs said that one lane was of particular importance during the test run.
"Lane 12 used to be so broken," she said. "It's been almost a decade since it last worked, so we all wanted to finally see it operational again."
Gibbs said that the staff often struggled to keep things up and running in the 32-year-old bowling center.
"It was a constant fight to make things work," she said. "We didn't have a problem getting people in, because people want to bowl. The problem was getting them to stay because they would get frustrated when the lanes weren't working. We always had 24 lanes, but at any given point we might only have had 13 of them operational."
She recalled that on the last night before the center closed for renovation, she and a few staff members had to manually operate the lanes.
"It just got to the point where we couldn't keep up, the lanes were so broken," Gibbs said.
When the concept of HyperBowl was proposed in 2018, Gibbs traveled to a bowling center in Virginia just to see how it worked.
"There just wasn't enough information out there to fully understand it, so I wanted to try it out," she said. "Most people still don't know what it is yet, because the closest place where someone here could play it is in New Jersey."
Gibbs, who has worked at Pine Plains since 2014, described the transformation of Pine Plains Bowling Center as incredible.
"This is very exciting," she said. "It was a massive work-in-progress for so long, that I can't believe it's finally here. I love it."
The Pine Plains Bowling Center is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call (315) 772-6601 or visit https://drum.armymwr.com/programs/pine-plains-bowling-center.