Spartan West, other bowling centers, suing governor, AG.

August 14, 2020

Mike Maynard, left, and Donn Slimmen, in front of Spartan West Bowling Center.

Spartan West, other bowling centers, suing governor, AG.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

AMBER TOWNSHIP — Donn Slimmen, owner of Spartan West Bowling Center and Beamer’s Restaurant, 2253 W. US 10/31, said his business has lost at least $180,000 since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed bowling centers in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, Whitmer’s office has refused to speak to representatives of Michigan’s bowling industry. As a result, Slimmen, along with four other Michigan bowling centers, have filed a federal law suit against Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel. 

“We are suing to try to force the governor to re-open the bowling centers and also to regain lost income,” Slimmen said. “When she closed bowling centers, and other small businesses, she said she would take care of us. So far, nothing. I have to pay a mortgage, utilities, taxes, liquor licenses, food licenses, insurance and employees. I don’t know how much longer we can hold on. League season is coming up at the beginning of September. I am estimating that, if we are unable to open for leagues, we will begin to lose $50,000 a month throughout the winter.” 

The case was filed by the Bowling Centers Association of Michigan on Aug. 6, 2020 in the Western District of U.S. Federal Court. The bowling centers suing include Spartan West, Royal Scot Golf and Bowl in Lansing, Spectrum Lanes in Grand Rapids, Forest View Lanes in Temperance, and Merri Bowl Lanes in Livonia. 

Slimmen said the association made several attempts to contact the governor’s office to discuss opening. “Each time we were met with nothing. No response at all.” 

In addition to the bowling center, Slimmen said he has taken a large loss with his restaurant as well. 

“We were closed for several weeks. We are currently open on Fridays. This time of year we rely on tourists. If they can’t bowl, they aren’t going to make a special trip out to the restaurant.” 

Manager Mike Maynard said that Michigan is only one of four states that does not allow bowling centers to be open. “Even the governor of New York has just come out and indicated that bowling centers will be able to open there.” 

Maynard said that bowling associations have issued guidelines to follow for centers to open safely. “We already have practiced rigorous sanitization before COVID hit,” Maynard said. “We will continue to follow those practices and be even more vigilant. When someone rents shoes or a ball, those items are always thoroughly sanitized when they are turned in. We have identified touch points that may be areas of extra concern and will clean those areas frequently.”

Slimmen said he has met with league bowlers who have overwhelmingly indicated they are want to bowl. 

“They want to be here,” he said. “I have had bowlers tell me that if they are required to wear masks, that’s what they will do. But, they want to bowl.

“I just don’t understand in a county where we have had less than 100 cases and zero deaths that we are unable to open up all businesses.” 

Slimmen is also active in the Unlock Michigan petition movement to eliminate the 1945 emergency power act that the governor has been using to bypass the legislature. For the past few days he has been collecting signatures under a tent set up in the Spartan West parking lot. 

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