The past two years have been Bowlmageddon in Portland. As real estate prices climb, the center of Portland has been utterly hollowed of old-school bowling alleys: First the developers came for the Hollywood Bowl, now a Garden Supply Store. Then Interstate Lanes made way for mixed-use apartments, and news came in April that even little AMF Bowling on Southeast Powell Boulevard would go under, future home of a miniature Target store. Only swanky Grand Central Bowl, seemingly, remained.
But Big Lebowski fans, take heart: There's a secret underground bowling alley in the center of Portland.
The Viking Gameroom, open since 1962, has billiards, video games and yes, a six-lane regulation-length bowling alley—and manager Kristine Wise tells WW it's "here to stay."
Specifically, it's staying in the basement of the Portland State University Student Union. The facility, which is open to the public every day but Sunday, is getting new balls and a new automated scoring system.
"You make an investment like that," Wise tells WW, "and you don't plan to move soon."
The gameroom is technically owned by PSU, but it's cost-neutral—sort of like a post-office for leisure sports. Anyone can walk in a play 10 frames for a mere two to four dollars, depending on the day, after renting shoes for a buck. Sure, the lanes are a little rickety and there's no alcohol, but the place is also blessedly dead during the summer: School's out, so the grown-ups can play.