A little bit of history on Bill White’s Akron Lanes…
Bill White has been a fixture on the local bowling scene for decades, but it wasn’t until the past few years that the former professional bowler became actively involving in running Bill White’s Akron Lanes in Springfield.
Although he has owned the facility (located at 2911 Waterloo Road) since 1988, White leased the building to AMF until 2005. It was in January 2005 that he took over the day-to-day operations of the alley at AMF’s request and ever since, he and his staff – some of whom have worked together for as many as 37 years – have poured countless hours and money into making the bowling alley a place they themselves would want to bowl and hang out.
“The key thing is that you need a friendly staff,” White said. “You also need a clean place where the machines and everything works properly and lanes that give people a chance for their best possible score when they bowl.”
Bill has sought to provide that by renovating the alley the past four-plus years, including a new paint job to decorate the building in red and gray, colors reflective of Akron Lanes’ Springfield location and also White’s ties to Ohio State University, where multiple members of his family have attended.
The facility boasts 64 lanes, with 44 leagues calling it home and playing every night of the week. Patrons can also play pool on one of the alley’s 10 tables, make use of the video game arcade or enjoy a drink in the sports bar located in the center of the facility, stocked with a dozen 50″ flat-screen televisions. Additionally, 10 flat-screen sets adorn the lanes, allowing bowlers to watch sports while they play one of their favorite sports.
“In just under five years, we’ve managed to make this a much more profitable business every year,” White declared. This “house” is especially meaningful to him, having bowled at the facility’s grand opening in 1962 against legends of the era such as Donna Myers.
Bowling was not White’s initial sports love; he twice signed minor-league baseball contracts but due to military and family commitments, he never played a game in the minors. After signing with the New York (now San Francisco) Giants in 1942, he entered the Navy and missed out on a potential baseball salary of $60 a month. After returning, he declined an offer from the Chicago White Sox and instead began pursuing bowling in earnest.
White played events on the Pro Bowler’s Association tour throughout the 1960’s, becoming the Ohio state match-play champion in 1962-63. He was the Akron Beacon Journal bowler of the years five times and is now a member of five local bowling Halls of Fame.
His start in the business side of bowling came as a pro shop employee at Midway Lanes in Kent in 1961. From there, he moved on to become a manager and in 1969, White bought his first bowling alley in Garrettsville. He continued to manage additional alleys, including what is now Bill White’s Akron Lanes, which he ran from 1980-82. In 1988, he purchased the facility and leased it out to AMF until assuming control in 1988.
“I’m proud of this place,” White said, sitting next to a wall in his office decorated with pictures from his career and with legendary bowlers of the past.
At the age of 87, it’s easy to see that White’s passion for bowling and sharing the game haven’t diminished and he is at the heart of Akron Lanes’ turnaround over the past five years, with plenty of good things on the horizon for Akron Lanes.