Wall Street has fallen in love with bowling

Bowlero, which operates avenues under the Bowlero, Bowlmor and AMF brands in addition to the PBA, will debut on Wall Street on Thursday following a merger with a blank check company led by two former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) executives.
The new company will trade under the ticker symbol of (you guessed it) BOWL once the deal with Isos Acquisition Corporation, a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, is completed.

Bowlero is thriving now that the bowling alleys have reopened after the lockdown and the bowlers have come back to it.

The company said its third-quarter revenue in 2021 grew more than 20% from the same quarter of 2019. Bowlero is also profitable again and momentum has continued, with revenue up 20% from two years ago in 2019. the nine weeks ending November 28.

CNN Business spoke with Bowlero president and chief financial officer Brett Parker about what’s next for the company and why bowling remains uniquely popular. (Cue your favorite “The Big Lebowski” line.)

Bowlero gets bigger through acquisitions

Parker said that while Bowlero is already by far the largest owner of bowling centers in the US, there are plenty of opportunities for growth. He noted that there are still about 3,500 independent bowling alleys in the US, many of which are potential takeover candidates.

“This industry is still fragmented and ripe for roll-ups,” Parker said, noting that acquiring existing bowling centers and upgrading them is a faster and less capital-intensive way to grow the business than building new facilities. .

The company is also in a unique position to own the PBA, which gives Bowlero a TV platform to promote the sport and drive more clients to his jobs.

“There are significant benefits associated with our PBA ownership,” Parker said. “We’re raising production values ​​and developing bowlers so that more people get to know them. That’s awareness.”

And that’s where Bowlero’s new partners at Isos come in. George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, the founders and co-CEOs of the SPAC, were both previously co-presidents of the WWE before being ousted by CEO Vince McMahon in early 2020 as a surprise. .

Could bowling be the next WWE or Formula 1?

Parker told CNN Business that the PBA will look to Wilson and Barrios’ expertise to try to make bowling more fun to watch — without going overboard.

“No one is going to run after someone ready to bowl and hit them with a chair,” Parker said. “The sport has to maintain its integrity. But we can make it more appealing. And they know how to take something that’s more of a niche product and make it mainstream.”

The PBA already has at least one personality that seems like a good fit for the WWE.

PBA champion Kyle Troup, who previously worked as Wendy’s manager and is the son of a former champion, is known for wearing flamboyant outfits and sporting a hairstyle reminiscent of the late painter and TV star Bob Ross.

Parker said the PBA is currently in talks both internally and with outside media companies about developing a show aimed at Troup and other professional bowlers.

It has also not gone unnoticed by Parker that the international Formula 1 motor racing circuit has become extremely popular in recent years, partly thanks to the Netflix (NFLX) Documentary series ‘Drive to Survive’ which debuted in 2019.
Parker also noted that: CBS (LAKE) is currently piloting a TV show debuting in 2022 called “How We Roll,” based on the life of bowler Tom Smallwood, who went from being fired from GM to the PBA tour.

Bowlero was not involved in the development of that program, but Parker said he would like to see the sport mentioned in pop culture. He added that cult classics like “Kingpin” and “The Big Lebowski” help raise the profile of bowling – and he’s happy about that.

“We want bowling in people’s minds as a way to potentially spend their leisure dollars. It’s okay if the movies are a little ironic. If ‘The Big Lebowski’ makes people feel warm and they go bowling, then it’s that’s okay,” he said. “Bowling is really fun.”

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