Time to shine that ball and knock some pins down.
Patrick Ciniello, a Naples resident who is the chairman of the board of bowling equipment giant QubicaAMF, is building a $9.2 million bowling and entertainment facility on Treeline Avenue near Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. “It's a new adventure for us,” he says.
HeadPinz will be a 48,000-square-foot building with bowling, laser tag, arcade games, a restaurant and bar. “We're projecting completion by the end of March or beginning of April,” says Ciniello, who needs to hire 80 people to staff the new facility.
Since the end of the recession, the area near the university has seen renewed development interest as restaurants and residential construction has increased. “We've chosen the right area,” says Ciniello, who has been inducted into the Bowling Hall of Fame. “There's a lot happening on Treeline.”
The facility's bowling lanes will feature some of the latest technology, such as synthetic lanes that can change color or backgrounds and the latest electronic scoring system. For example, bowlers will be able to post their HeadPinz scores on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
The center, which is also close to Southwest Florida International Airport, will be a showcase for QubicaAMF. Customers of the company's products will be able to fly to Fort Myers to see and test the newest bowling equipment. “We've had discussions with a lot of hotels in the area,” Ciniello says.
Ciniello, who owns six other bowling centers in Southwest Florida, says the industry has to change to accommodate customers who want more than just bowling. They're looking for other activities such laser tag, ropes courses and arcade games. “Traditional bowling alleys are becoming more entertainment facilities,” he says. “It's a different model with all the different amenities.”
Gone too are the days of cheap beer and bad food. “Today, the customer is looking for the higher-end food and beverage,” Ciniello says. “That's becoming more important.”
Ciniello has already tested the concept himself. He transformed an existing bowling alley in Cape Coral into an entertainment center last year, expanding the kitchen and bar and adding a game zone and VIP lounge. The Cape Coral center earned a “best renovated center” award from industry trade publication Bowlers Journal International.
Still, bowling will be a big part of the new HeadPinz facility. Ciniello, who bowls in three leagues, will have 24 modern lanes and eight old-time lanes with pin boys replacing fallen pins. In addition, Ciniello hopes to help start an NCAA bowling team at nearby Florida Gulf Coast University.
Some things won't change: “We'll have leagues available,” Ciniello says.