Bowling center would be welcome among students

By Dick Mason, The Observer March 14, 2014 09:43 am

EOU students present findings from survey

A bowling center and extended business hours might go a long way toward drawing Eastern Oregon University students to downtown La Grande more frequently.

These are two of the conclusions from a La Grande Main Street Downtown Survey conducted by seven students in an EOU marketing research class taught by business professor Gary Keller. A total of 333 students who take classes on campus were surveyed. The group selected represented a cross section of the on-campus students.

Survey questions, which drew overwhelmingly positive responses, included one about bowling. Students were asked how frequently they would go to a bowling center if one opened in La Grande. The question is relevant because there are plans to convert the old Eagles Lodge building on Jefferson Avenue into a bowling center.

Fifty-three percent of the EOU students responding to the survey said they would visit the bowling center frequently. Ninety-eight students, 29 percent, said they would come once a month and 80, 24 percent, indicated they would come once a week.

One reason a bowling center would likely be popular is that students want to have places to go for entertainment where alcohol is not served.

“One thing which came out over and over is that students want to socialize but not necessarily in bars,” Keller said. “They want to have some good old-fashioned fun.”

The results of the survey indicate that many EOU students do not go downtown frequently because of a lack of a variety of entertainment. A total of 101 students marked this as the primary reason they do not go downtown. The second most cited reason was inconvenient operating hours. A number of students indicated they would like to see business establishments open later at night. 

“A lot of students would likes stores to be open a little later,” said Emory Jones, a member of the team that surveyed students for the research project, during a presentation Wednesday at EOU.

Kalvin Johanson, a member of the survey team and a member of the EOU men’s basketball team, is among those who feel that extended hours would help businesses draw more Eastern students. Johanson noted that on Friday and Saturday nights after basketball games there are few places to go to enjoy a meal with his parents or friends.

“Almost everything is closed,” Johanson said.

Charlie Mitchell, the City of La Grande’s community and economic development director, gave the students high marks after listening to their presentation. 

“I was really impressed. The students did a good job,” Mitchell said.