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Old 08-11-2013, 04:02 PM
 
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Are businesses that provide recreational activities good investments? I am referring to bowling alleys, pool halls, Ice Rinks, indoor sporting complexes, and even Paintball arenas.

Bowling alleys and pool, do they make money on the weekdays?. Both do not have high labor costs. A bowling alley needs a large startup capital for the machines, but they run themselves. I guess your utility bill will be high though, and I figure you need a large, large piece of real estate.

Pool halls, well, you could probably buy everything, and just set all the tables up all by yourself. Your utility bill is probably like a bar. Would you put a bar in a pool hall and serve a little food? I see these pool halls around where I live, and I just cannot help but wonder how they are doing.

What really prompted this question though is an indoor paintball facility. They have two ladies at the front checking people in front, I guess three guys prepping the rental guns, two guys setting the players up and reffing. They use a re-ball system so they dont have to keep buying new paintballs. They also had a few more people, some were dressed as zombies for some reasons. I am thinking this is an employee owned facility.

How about ice rinks, and indoor sporting facilities? In NYC, you have three ice rinks that I am well aware of: Chelsea Piers (ice rink, and other sports), City Ice Pavilion (ice rink only), and World Ice (ice rink only). Chelsea Piers seems to do very good business. I think the landlord may be the state as it is on top of a former pier. They have facilities for hockey, basketball, indoor soccer, and etc. They have no competition on the West Side of Manhattan, and Manhattan is affluent. City Ice and World Ice only have ice hockey, and figure skating. I visited this place on Long Island that had deck and roller hockey, and they seem to have a lot of customers.

If you had a choice, what would you do an Ice rink or a deck for people to play roller hockey or deck hockey? Would you invest in a rink or indoor sporting facility over a regular fitness gym like LA Fitness or a smaller gym like Bally's. They both provide a means of exercise, but one does so through playing games.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:36 AM
 
Location: Roanoke, VA
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Are you in N.J.? As far as ice rinks go, I know that the one in Charlottesville, VA has struggled. The ice rink in Fredericksburg, VA closed.
A major sporting complex venture in Richmond, VA did not end well:
SportsQuest founder files for bankruptcy - Richmond Times-Dispatch: Chesterfield

I don't know about bowling alleys per se, but AMF has not had a good time of late.

AMF Bowling has completed its merger with Bowlmor - Richmond Times-Dispatch: Business News About Richmond-Area Companies

I suspect that these are businesses that one should not attempt on a shoestring.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:49 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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Many, if not most of them in this area have closed up due to the high cost of land. Someone comes along and offers a lot of money to build condos or a large office building and the lease is not renewed. You have to be in an area with a lot of people but that's where land costs more. I would not suggest doing it without owning the property. In our small city of 45,000 we have a couple of successful athletic clubs that are expected to struggle just because a new YMCA is opening nearby with many of the same activities at much lower prices. The best bowling alley that I go to in Seattle is also a bar/restaurant, not just a snack bar like most of them. That gives them additional revenue even from people that do not bowl, and they are in a popular area with a lot of 20s-30s.
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:08 AM
 
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Many recreational businesses are real estate plays. Buy land, build something inexpensive and run it until the city builds up to it and then sell. There are enough problems with the industry that you want to be very careful and think about every eventuality before investing. Liability is a big one, but even bigger is having the type of management that will allow just enough freedom to the customers that they don't feel too constrained, while at the same time discouraging those who really act out from coming around. If there are even a couple of fights or negative incidents, an investment of thousands can be toast in a day. Entertainment is also singled out for excessive local taxation. When video games first came out, they were gold mines. Within a VERY short period of time, municipalities were requiring expensive licenses for each game. Then there is the fun of dealing with the public.
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:46 PM
 
Location: Living on the Coast in Oxnard CA
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Not sure if these are good investments but they are costly for the most part. Pool hall would be cheaper but then how much can you chage for a game? In our area you can play for 75 cents a game. That is a lot of realestate for so little return on the investment.
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Old 08-12-2013, 04:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Many recreational businesses are real estate plays. Buy land, build something inexpensive and run it until the city builds up to it and then sell. There are enough problems with the industry that you want to be very careful and think about every eventuality before investing. Liability is a big one, but even bigger is having the type of management that will allow just enough freedom to the customers that they don't feel too constrained, while at the same time discouraging those who really act out from coming around. If there are even a couple of fights or negative incidents, an investment of thousands can be toast in a day. Entertainment is also singled out for excessive local taxation. When video games first came out, they were gold mines. Within a VERY short period of time, municipalities were requiring expensive licenses for each game. Then there is the fun of dealing with the public.

100% right on!

You really need to do your homework on ice rinks/bowling alleys......how many times a year would the average person do patronize your business? You can count on ONE hand how many times I have bowled/ice skated in my lifetime.......You would starve waiting for my $20. I would think the bar/restaurant is the gold mine in the bowling business. Ice skating is tough, hockey leagues would be able to schedule time but 8-2 weekdays is going to be dead (school times) and summers could be tough in some markets (people travel, want to do outdoor stuff vs cold).
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:02 PM
 
Location: Here.
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Chances are if your area can support one of these businesses, it already exists. And probably satisfies the entire demand for such activity. If you open up another facility, one of you would probably go out of business after a few years. And unless you have some tremendous advantage over the other guy(s), I would bet it would be you (not since you are incompetent, just that you don't have an established customer base).

The only business on your list that I might go for is a fitness center, but only if you are franchise for a well-know company and only if you are certain that there is a demand for it in your area.

The second choice would be an ice rink, but that would only be if you live in a wealthy area where parents can afford ice hockey...and there are no other rinks nearby.

A large multi-sport complex would be next, but they are very expensive. Again you would need a large wealthy population with a lot of young families and no competitors.

Paintball is very rare. Most major cities have only one of these if any. Just not enough demand.

Bowling alleys and pool halls are a thing of the past. The few surviving ones are barely making it (probably more from alcohol sales, that from sport).
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:28 PM
 
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Yes, you are right, an Ice Rink or roller hockey/deck hockey Rink, and sports complex would be dead from 8-2. All the kids are in school, and the adults are working. But then again there are some restaurants that get no business either during lunch, or dinner, or even weekdays.

In NYC alone I believe there is five Ice rinks that I know of. And I believe Mark Messier is trying to build a bigger more luxurious one in the Bronx of all places. I frequent two of them in Queens, and I always wondered about there books. I wish I can get a hand on their accounting records.

Really, pool halls, and bowling are a thing of the past. I guess everyone really does just spend their off hours drinking alcohol. But you can do that at home, or anywhere outside with a paper bag in hand. Why even go to the bar? And yet I still see bars opening up everywhere. But come on dont people get bored of the same thing every week?
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:37 PM
 
9,260 posts, read 7,875,437 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retroit View Post
Chances are if your area can support one of these businesses, it already exists. And probably satisfies the entire demand for such activity. If you open up another facility, one of you would probably go out of business after a few years. And unless you have some tremendous advantage over the other guy(s), I would bet it would be you (not since you are incompetent, just that you don't have an established customer base).

The only business on your list that I might go for is a fitness center, but only if you are franchise for a well-know company and only if you are certain that there is a demand for it in your area.

The second choice would be an ice rink, but that would only be if you live in a wealthy area where parents can afford ice hockey...and there are no other rinks nearby.

A large multi-sport complex would be next, but they are very expensive. Again you would need a large wealthy population with a lot of young families and no competitors.

Paintball is very rare. Most major cities have only one of these if any. Just not enough demand.

Bowling alleys and pool halls are a thing of the past. The few surviving ones are barely making it (probably more from alcohol sales, that from sport).
I imagine fitness centers like an LA Fitness, or your average gym which is what I mean when I say fitness center only get adult patrons and no children. And I would guess they are not busy from 8-2, but the ones I have been to have many people in them even during those hours. I guess these people work off hours.

Yet, I want to get this out. Going to a gym is really not a better way of staying in shape then playing a sport, well at least for a lot of people. It is very boring. I only go to the gym occasionally now that I have been playing hockey, and doing martial arts.

I am inclined to think that people would rather go to an ice rink or a sports complex would compete with the gym. It is much more fun to play games then just run on a machine or lift a few weights. An ice rink would be more expensive, but a sports complex with just maybe some basketball, racketball, and a small artificial grass field doesnt have to be much bigger than some of the franchise gyms here in NYC. But then again you can probably fit more people into a fitness gym's space, and let them do something, then you could a group of people playing a sport.
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Old 08-13-2013, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Living on the Coast in Oxnard CA
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Maybe in NYC. Around here the parks have places to play BBall, tennis, and just about anything else and you can do it for free.
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