Why Is Bowling So Expensive? (+5 Money-saving Tips)



  • Bowling can be expensive because of the costs associated with renting premium equipment, occupying space, and maintaining lanes.
  • However, there are many creative ways to save money on bowling without sacrificing the fun as we will discuss below.


Bowling is a classic pastime enjoyed by many, yet it often comes with a hefty price tag.

What exactly makes this fun-filled activity so expensive? In this article, we’ll explore the costs behind bowling and share practical money-saving tips to help you enjoy the game without breaking the bank.

So let’s dive in and discover how to get more bang for your buck at the bowling alley!

Why bowling can be expensive?

Bowling can be expensive due to factors such as high-end bowling alleys, premium equipment rental costs, space occupancy fees, lane maintenance and repair expenses, and staffing and operational expenses.

High-end bowling alleys

Some bowling alleys offer a premium experience, with state-of-the-art equipment and luxurious amenities. These high-end facilities often come at a steep price, with lane rental fees that can reach up to $200 per hour. Additionally, these alleys may charge more for shoe rentals and equipment usage.

One example of such an upscale alley is Lucky Strike, which offers private lanes, bottle service, and gourmet food options in select locations. This type of luxury bowling experience appeals to those looking for something beyond the traditional game. However, it also means higher costs for customers who want access to these upscale amenities.

While these high-end bowling alleys provide a unique experience that sets them apart from other facilities, their added expenses are something to consider when budgeting for a night out on the lanes.

Premium equipment rental costs

One major contributing factor to the high cost of bowling is the premium equipment rental costs. Bowling alleys provide all necessary equipment such as shoes and balls, but these rentals can add up quickly.

For example, renting a pair of bowling shoes can cost anywhere from $3 to $5 per pair, per person, while renting a ball usually ranges between $2 and $10 depending on the quality and brand.

Additionally, some bowling alleys offer premium equipment rentals that come with an added fee. These rentals may feature high-end materials or unique designs that cater to serious bowlers or those looking for a more luxurious experience. The prices for these options can range from an additional few dollars up to over $20 per item rented.

Space occupancy fees

why is bowling so expensive

Bowling alleys require a significant amount of space to operate.

However, renting the space is not cheap and can significantly contribute to the high cost of bowling. The more spacious the facility, the higher the rent for space occupancy which translates to higher prices charged per customer in order for the business to remain profitable.

Premium bowling alleys often occupy prime real estate locations with high rental rates, while older facilities may need renovations or upgrades that require additional funds.

Many factors are taken into consideration when determining space occupancy fees such as location, size of the facility, demographic, and competition among others. This is why some bowling alleys charge much more than others for lane rental fees despite offering similar services.

Lane maintenance and repair expenses

Maintaining and repairing bowling lanes is essential to keep them in good condition for players. However, these costs can add up quickly and contribute to the overall expense of bowling.

Bowling alleys need to regularly oil their lanes, which involves specialized equipment and materials that come at a premium price. Furthermore, regular lane resurfacing may be necessary to keep up with wear and tear caused by frequent use.

Additionally, there are other expenses associated with maintaining a bowling alley’s facilities beyond just the lanes themselves. These may include facility upkeep such as cleaning, painting, and ventilation systems maintenance. Employing skilled technicians also comes with additional labor costs.

Despite these expenses, some venues may cut corners on maintenance expenses or invest in lower-quality materials or equipment. This could result in inferior playing conditions that impact the overall experience for bowlers.

Staffing and operational expenses

Bowling alleys require a significant amount of staff to operate efficiently, which contributes to the overall cost. The number of employees working at an alley and their level of expertise play a role in setting prices.

From front desk attendants to mechanics who maintain the lanes, each member of staff is essential for bowlers’ enjoyable experience. Bowling alleys that provide additional amenities such as arcade games or dining options will have more overhead expenses and therefore higher prices.

Practical tips for reducing bowling costs

Take advantage of discounts and promotions, join a league or club, share the lane with friends, bring your own equipment, and plan ahead and book in advance to reduce bowling costs.

Take advantage of discounts and promotions

Bowling alleys often offer discounts and promotions to attract customers. These can help you save money on your bowling expenses! Here are a few ways to take advantage of these deals:

  1. Check the bowling alley’s website or social media pages for current promotions.
  2. Sign up for the bowling alley’s rewards or loyalty program to receive exclusive discounts.
  3. Look for student, military, or senior discounts if you qualify.
  4. Plan your visit during off-peak hours when rates are lower.
  5. Take advantage of group discounts when bowling with friends or family.
  6. Consider purchasing a package deal that includes multiple games or other amenities like food and drinks.
  7. Keep an eye out for seasonal promotions around holidays, like discount coupons included in holiday cards.

Join a league or club

Joining a bowling league or club can be an excellent way to reduce the cost of bowling. These groups often provide discounts on lane rentals, equipment rental, and other expenses associated with the game.

In addition to the financial benefits, joining a league or club can also be an excellent opportunity to meet new people and improve your skills. Many leagues offer coaching programs and opportunities for competitive play.

Another benefit of joining a bowling league is that it allows you to bowl more often without breaking the bank. Most leagues have set schedules for weekly games, giving you regular access to discounted lanes and equipment rentals. Additionally, some leagues offer incentives like reduced pricing for members who participate in multiple seasons.

Share the lane with friends

share the lane with friends

Looking for ways to save money while enjoying a game of bowling with your friends? Sharing the lane is an excellent way to do just that.

Not only do you get to split the cost of renting a lane, but it’s also more fun and social when you play with others. This option works best if you have a group of people since it allows each person to take turns and avoid having idle time while others bowl.

Another benefit of sharing the lane is that it gives everyone a chance to observe and learn from each other’s techniques. Perhaps one friend throws strikes consistently, while another has perfected their spare shots. By observing each other, everyone can improve their skills and up their game before taking on new opponents.

Remember, splitting the cost isn’t exclusive to bowling shoes rental or equipment; it applies to paying hourly or per game too. The more players involved in renting an hourly rate lane fee, the less expensive it becomes per person for the entire time rented out compared with playing by yourself or in smaller groups on an hourly basis.

Overall, sharing lanes with friends can make bowling far cheaper than going alone!

Bring your own equipment

To save money while bowling, you can bring your own equipment. Many bowling alleys allow you to bring in your own balls and shoes. If you are a serious bowler, this is an excellent choice for you because it allows you to use custom-made equipment that fits your specific needs.

Bringing your own equipment also saves money on rental fees.

You won’t have to pay for shoe rentals or ball rentals if you have already brought them with you. However, do make sure that the equipment meets the standards of the bowling alley and has not been altered beyond what is allowed by regulation. In addition, always carry your gear in a clean bag to avoid any confusion at the check-in counter or damage during transit.

Finally, bringing your own gear may be beneficial for hygiene reasons as well since some people prefer using their personal items rather than shared ones.

Plan ahead and book in advance

A great way to save some money on bowling is to plan ahead and book in advance. Most bowling alleys offer discounts for groups that reserve lanes ahead of time. Booking online or through the venue’s app can also give you access to exclusive deals and promotions.

By booking in advance, you’ll also have a better chance of snagging a lane during peak hours, which tend to be more expensive than off-peak times. Some facilities charge per game while others rent out lanes by the hour, so make sure to check with your chosen alley what their pricing policy before making a reservation.

Another benefit of planning ahead is it gives you room for flexibility should something come up unexpectedly. For example, if there are any changes in plans or weather conditions that affect your original schedule, having reservations allows you to adjust accordingly without losing out on potential savings.

Try virtual bowling

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to enjoy bowling, virtual options may be the solution. Here are some virtual bowling alternatives to consider:

  1. Video game bowling: Many video games offer realistic bowling simulations that you can play from the comfort of your own home. Some popular options include Wii Sports Bowling, Brunswick Pro Bowling, and PBA Pro Bowling.
  2. Online bowling competitions: Joining an online bowling tournament or league can be a fun and affordable way to compete against other players from around the world.
  3. Mobile app games: There are many mobile apps available that offer fun and challenging bowling games that you can play on your phone or tablet.
  4. Virtual reality bowling: If you have access to a virtual reality headset, you can experience realistic bowling simulations that provide an immersive gameplay experience.
  5. AR technology: Augmented reality (AR) technology can bring the game of bowling right to your living room floor. AR-enabled apps allow you to bowl at home using just your smartphone or tablet camera.

Virtual bowling options not only provide an affordable way to enjoy the sport but also offer a great way to practice and improve your skills when in-person play is not possible.

How about some mini-bowling sessions?

Mini-bowling has become increasingly popular among bowling enthusiasts looking for a fun and cost-effective experience.

Unlike traditional bowling, mini-bowling uses smaller lanes, shorter pins, and a lighter ball designed for recreational play. This means it’s easier to play and less expensive than regular bowling. Mini-bowling is perfect for family outings or casual gatherings with friends as it provides the same level of entertainment without breaking the bank.

Many bowling alleys have started offering mini-bowling as an alternative to their standard facilities, making it easier for people to enjoy the game at a lower cost.

With its shorter lanes and lighter balls, mini-bowling can also be used as an introduction to traditional bowling or a way to improve technique before playing on full-sized lanes.


In conclusion, bowling may seem like an expensive hobby or activity for some, but understanding the factors that contribute to its cost can help you make smarter and more practical decisions. While premium bowling alleys with top-of-the-line equipment come at a high price tag, there are plenty of ways to save money without sacrificing the fun.

From joining a league or club to sharing the lane with friends, there are many practical solutions available. And if all else fails, alternative options such as virtual bowling or mini-bowling can still provide an enjoyable experience on a budget.

Last updated on April 7, 2023