HeadPinz Fort Myers, an $8 million entertainment complex north of the airport off Treeline Avenue, is opening Thursday, July 16, at 2 p.m.
Inside, you'll find bowling and much more. Chances are, it's unlike anything you've ever seen before — at least not all in one place.
A reporter and photographer from The News-Press took a tour in late June and talked to Mike Cannington, director of operations for Bowland Centers, and Nicholas Jones, general manager of the new center.
Work was going on all around at the time. Still, it was a head-turning experience, and the place has a modern, sleek look.
The 48,000-square-foot center has 28 lanes — 16 in a traditional setting, eight in a VIP boutique area with its own bar and four "old-time" lanes with pin setting by hand and a vintage feel.
"Nowhere in the country are there white lanes," like there are in the VIP area, Cannington said, adding some can be found in Europe.
Other key attractions include a two-story laser tag arena, a suspended aerial ropes course and a game zone with more than 40 top arcade games.
There is also an indoor/outdoor lounge, conference, meeting and party rooms. Beyond that is Nemo's Sports Bar, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a full bar and large-screen TVs. All told, the center features 76 48-inch TVs (24 of them above the lanes).
"This is a one-stop shop for entertainment," said Cannington, rattling off the center's many offerings. "This is the premier facility of its kind."
Social bowling leagues will be offered Monday through Thursday.
Jones, the GM, is a U.S. Army veteran who worked for the Department of Defense and has experience managing bars and restaurants.
Looking over the expanse from the top of the arctic-themed laser tag arena, a viewer can see a fair amount of the complex.
"It gives a sense of how big the facility actually is," Jones said.
Once word went out in April about hiring, nearly 1,000 people applied for 130 positions including managers, food and beverage workers, game zone attendants, customer service people, event sales staff and mechanics.
The site is near the newly opened Six Bends Harley-Davidson, and down the street from Gulf Coast Town Center, FGCU and JetBlue Park. Seven hotels are within a mile radius and it's easy to reach from the interstate.
"This corridor has become the epicenter for entertainment," he said. "We are a regional destination. This location was just perfect for us."
Cannington discussed how owners of bowling centers have had to reinvent the attraction in recent years to appeal to more entertainment consumers.
"This is the ultimate reinvention," he said.
This is the seventh Southwest Florida location in the Bowland Centers family. There are two in Naples and two in Cape Coral as well as one each in Lehigh Acres and Port Charlotte.
Patrick Ciniello owns Bowland Centers. The Naples resident was inducted into the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America Hall of Fame in 2011. He is chairman of the board for QubicaAMF Worldwide, one of the world's largest manufacturers of bowling equipment.