Steve Mackie

Tenpins & More appreciated the coverage as a lead story on KRQE-TV’s 10 p.m. news on Feb. 11, and Annalisa Pardo’s reporting on the desperate plight of so-called “close contact recreational facilities” in New Mexico.

Now, only four states remain fully to somewhat closed for bowling, including us. So the thought, by deduction, is that 46 other states are getting it wrong in allowing bowling to proceed — in some cases at 100 percent capacity for league and open play — and with no known outbreak of COVID cases inside their four walls.

Because TV news interviews are heavily edited for time constraints, here are the things we discussed that didn’t make it to air:

  • Loyalty of our customers when we were open.
  • Gyms, rock-climbing, ice skating, ax throwing, top golf and perhaps billiard parlors all open.

In two months of league play only, we had 6,000 customer “visits” with no reported cases; we took everyone’s temperature, everyone wore masks, everyone was contact traced, social distancing was encouraged and observed, along with directional signage everywhere.

Ours is a 27,500-square-foot building, much larger than the “footprint” of the other businesses that have been operating for months.

  • Neighboring states Arizona, Colorado and Texas have been open for all bowling, with few restrictions for months; some of our league and tournament bowlers have even traveled there to simply throw a few games.
  • 15,000 league and tournament bowlers in New Mexico have been denied almost any access to ply their trade, and there has been zero open play since March 2020.
  • Youth bowlers’ scholarship opportunities have been placed on a lengthy hold.

I invited the governor to visit Tenpins & More or send a delegation to inspect all we’ve done to ensure the safety and protection of all our employees and customers; awaiting a response from her office. In fact, I have not gotten any feedback from numerous phone messages, emails or a video sent to Santa Fe.

Tenpins & More, one of 33 centers in New Mexico, was down almost $900,000 in the comparison of 2019 vs. 2020. Our employees were thus denied over $250,000 in wages that would have been spent locally.

All our vendors lost out too, as did various tax agencies we pay, including over $110,000 in gross receipts tax we paid in 2019, compared to only $46,500 in 2020.

Finally, a sincere shout-out to Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull for his unending efforts to get his city fully re-opened so all small businesses here can safely become financially stable once again, by diligently employing all COVID-safe practices required by the Department of Health.

Bowling’s day of redemption in New Mexico is coming. Our patience is still required as we wait.

And we really look forward to serving our local communities once again. May God bless us all.

(Steve Mackie has operated Tenpins & More on Deborah Road for more than 20 years; it’s the site of the annual New Mexico Open every August — except in 2020, because of the pandemic.)

Guest Column