“The funding piece was beginning to coming together,” he said.
It became complete when Tabor College joined the venture.
“Tabor College agreed to fund a portion of the project in exchange for naming rights,” Seibel said. “This was a perfect opportunity to fulfill President (Jules) Glanzer’s vision for Tabor College to have a presence on Hillsboro’s Main Street.”
The renovated facility will be named Tabor College Bluejay Lanes. The total investment for the purchase and remodel is estimated to be around $220,000.
In addition to updating the bowling portion of the facility, the two front rooms on either side of the entrance will cater to the youth of the community.
One of the rooms will offer video games, the other will provide WiFi access as place for students to hang out or receive tutoring.
The connection with Tabor began through conversations with Todd Zenner, coach of the college’s new bowling program, who had expressed interest in owning and operating a bowling center in Hillsboro.
“Todd and his wife, Tiffany, also a bowler, would make a perfect couple to run a new youth/bowling center in Hillsboro,” Seibel said. “Todd grew up in his parents’ bowling center at Eastgate Lanes in Newton. Todd’s interest in bowling took him to Wichita State.”
The Zenners’ participation solves the facility-management issue as well as providing multiple benefits to the college and community.
“I think sky’s the limit with the potential,” said Zenner, who has invested in the venture as a managing partner.
“One, it’s going to help me at Tabor with my bowling team when it comes to recruiting,” he said. “The bowling center was a little outdated. Now that we can get it updated, I think that’s going to help bring in more kids, whereas before it was kind of scaring them off.”
Zenner said a renovated bowling facility should be good for the community as well.
“Obviously, there’s not a lot to do in Hillsboro—but the bowling center was never open,” he said. “Having regular hours, and having the two rooms being for the kids—I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Zenner said he plans to expand league bowling to include a night for a women’s league, a men’s league, a mixed league and for Tabor students.
“My parents owned Eastgate Lanes, and I see a lot of (Tabor) kids come through there on our Cosmic Night,” he said. “I want to see if I can offer something similar, and see if we can keep some of them in town.
“I know a lot of them are going to want to get out of Hillsboro, but for those who don’t have cars, I think it will be a nice addition.”
An idea grows
The idea for developing a youth center began when a group of people interested in the future and welfare of Hillsboro’s young people met to discuss the opportunities available for them.
Through the efforts of local leaders, the city received a grant through the Federal Home Land Bank to initiate a Youth Engagement and Entrepreneurship program.
“The focus of the program is to see that Hillsboro provides opportunities that will attract families with youth so that our school system and community remains vibrant,” said Seibel, who spearheaded the program.
In the course of discussion, at least one tangible need emerged.
“While Hillsboro has many recreational and sports facilities, it was noted that we do not have a place for teens to hang out. That’s when the idea of a youth/bowling center came up,” he said.
Trail Lanes became an obvious option to provide a solution.
“The late Ray and Betty (Funk), along with their family, provided a great recreational and entertainment venue for Hillsboro and the surrounding community for many years,” Seibel said.
“It seemed like some of the pieces of the puzzle were coming together; we identified a need for youth, the bowling center was for sale. Suddenly some of the missing pieces started to emerge.”
Glanzer said the concept appealed to the college for a number of reasons.
“I have always wanted to have Tabor College’s name on Main Street,” he said. “I think it communicates to people who come to the town that the city and the college are working together to better the community.
“We actually see it as a way for Tabor to invest in the community over and above the way we already do,” he added. “Part of it is just being a good neighbor—we care about the high school kids, and we care about the community.”
Providing a home for the college’s bowling team was another reason.
“It gives us a great place where we have some say as to what it looks like, and how it will appear for our recruits when they come in,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to recruit students to come to a college when we have to drive 10 or 30 miles to practice every day.”
“It’s one of those partnerships with the community where I think everybody wins.”
Lyman Adams, HDC president, said the uniqueness of the partnership was a compelling factor for the board.
“It’s an exciting concept,” he said. “We had an opportunity with the bowling coach and an established business that was in town. Then, came the idea of a youth center and working together with Tabor.
“It’s a very exciting project that can be a cornerstone in downtown Hillsboro for some time into the future.”
He said the partnership approach should give this project a leg up on a stand-alone youth center, many of which struggle to remain relevant over time.
“There’s risk involved no matter what,” Adams added. “We don’t know what the future will be like, but HDC is excited to be a part of it.”
Both Glanzer and Adams credited Seibel for leading the way.
“I am really thankful to Clint for all the work he did to put this together, and to those in the community who donated to this cause to help make it happen,” Glanzer said. “It’s great to be part of a cooperative and collaborative project.”
Adams added, “Having an economic development position with the city kept the thing going.”
With the facility acquired and a manager in place, what’s next?
“Now that the sales contract has been closed, the remodeling can begin,” Seibel said. “An advisory group has had a preliminary meeting to coordinate the various interests for remodeling the center.
“The entire facility will have a new facelift, including handicap accessible bathrooms. The bowling center will feature cosmic lighting and sound.”
Seibel said he hopes the project can be completed during summer so it will be ready for public use by the start of school this fall.