History of the Sport Bowl

Image: Sport Bowl’s downtown grand opening in 1940 was covered by the Argus Leader.

In November of 1940, Sioux Falls businessman Joe Floyd Sr. opened the Sport Bowl for business. It was located at 222 North Phillips Ave. At the time, it was the most modern bowling center in the upper Midwest. It featured 10 Brunswick lanes on the main floor and 6 more lanes of the second floor. At the time, All Brunswick machines were semi- automatic. In the mid 1950’s the Brunswick machines were replaces with AMF automatic pin setters. This change eliminated 40 jobs of manual pin setters.

On March 16, 1961 the Sport Bowl was purchased by Frank Maltese Sr. and Al Stephen. In 1962 Frank purchased Al Stephen’s portion of the bowling center. Underground ball returns were installed in 1963. In May of 1965, a fire occurred destroying the interior of the building. The city declared the building unsafe and condemned it so the building was demolished.

In order to rebuild and expand the facility a new building site was found at 1901 Burnside. The “new” Sport Bowl opened for business on January 12, 1966. The lounge was originally owned by Al Stephen and Andy Anderson. Frank Maltese and Mel VanLiere purchased the lounge in 1967 and remained partners until 1990.

In 1990, Frank Sr. bought Mel’s portion of the lounge and remained sole owner until July of 1996 when he retired and sold out to Dave Parker and Frank Maltese Jr. After ownership for eleven years, Frank Maltese Jr. retired from the lounge in July 2007 and sold his portion of the lounge to Dave Parker.

In October of 1988, Frank Maltese Jr. and Dave Parker partnered together to purchase the Sport Bowl Lanes, in which they remained partners for 20 years. Frank Jr. sold his share of the lanes to Jeremy Sonnenfeld in January 1, 2007.

Over the years the Sport Bowl has continually updated and modernized the bowling center. They have included a poll/game area, a snack bar and also one of the top pro shops in the Midwest.

When the Sport Bowl first opened their 16-lane Brunswick bowling center in Downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it was a really big deal. The Argus Leader covered the event (photo above) in their Wednesday, Nov. 14, 1940 issue. Print ads purchased by other businesses that day, littered throughout the paper, wished the Sport Bowl congratulations for their grand opening.