Island Strikz Entertainment Center in Gulfport opened with promise in August 2006, just a year after Hurricane Katrina took away so many family attractions, but it will close May 31.
The employees were informed of the closing Monday.
The business opened with about 40 employees working at the bowling lanes on Pass Road in East Gulfport. Jay Osman, one of four partners in JJP&L LLC with John Bell, Peter Burns and Larry McGuire, said 11 people now work there and he and the other owners will help them find jobs while they look for a new operator for Island Strikz.
“We are hoping that someone else can pick it up and continue to use it as a family entertainment facility,” he said.
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The four casino executives invested $4 million to build the 27,000-square-foot bowling alley just west of DeBuys Road, with 24 bowling lanes, an arcade, snack bar and meeting and party rooms. At the time it was one of the largest non-casino investments since Katrina and brought cosmic bowling with black lights, a high-tech sound system, fog and light effects to South Mississippi.
“Since then we were hit by a perfect storm of negative events,” he said, “from the nation-wide financial meltdown of 2008-09, followed by the 2010 BP spill disaster and recently, we were faced with various new family entertainment attractions competing for our customers.”
What was supposed to be a good and fun investment turned into financial losses, he said. The demographics changed as families moved north of the interstate or away from the area while he said properties near the Coast still are paying high insurance rates and big bills for property tax.
Osman said he is happy the Coast is experiencing growth opportunities, and he and the partners are hoping to sell the building, but also would consider leasing the property. It has 150 parking spaces and he sees it being used for retail, a community events center, church or other family entertainment venue.