Fair Lanes headquarters to shut down


The new owners of Fair Lanes Inc.,the leading bowling-center operator in the Baltimore-Washington area, will close the company's Hunt Valley headquarters and move its administrative operations to Richmond, Va., Fair Lanes President R. Wayne Strausburg said yesterday.

Thirty-nine jobs will disappear from Baltimore County as a result.

Once the move is completed by mid-March, Fair Lanes, founded in Baltimore in 1923, will cease its status as a Maryland-based company.

Its 106 centers will be operated from the headquarters of AMF Bowling Centers Inc. in Richmond. Fair Lanes and AMF have the same owners, the result of stock deals disclosed last year and earlier this month.

Together, the two form the big gest U.S. bowling operation, with more than 200 centers and over $200 million in annual sales.

No decision has been made about the future of the Fair Lanes nameplate on bowling centers. But "it will probably be retained in markets where Fair Lanes has a dominant presence," including Baltimore, Washington, Phoenix and possibly Florida, Mr. Strausburg said.

Fair Lanes will vacate about 10,000 square feet of office space in Hunt Valley Business Center by mid-March, he added.

Mr. Strausburg, who is leaving the company, said Fair Lanes' bowling centers and regional offices will be little affected by the changes. Some Hunt Valley employees are being offered jobs in Richmond, he said.

The swallowing of Fair Lanes by AMF results from a chain of events going back to 1989, when Fair Lanes was acquired in a leveraged buyout by investment group Deutschman Clayton & Co.

The resulting debt hurt the company, and last year it voluntarily entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

The AMF shareholders acquired a large block of Fair Lanes stock last summer after the company emerged from bankruptcy. They purchased another block, giving them voting control, earlier this month.

Mr. Strausburg, who was promoted to president in November, said it wasn't clear until recently that AMF and Fair Lanes would be merged.

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