Rose Bowl Seeking A Turnaround

Friday, March 28th 2008, 7:18 pm
By: News On 6

The Rose Bowl is under renovation after years of uncertainty that it would ever open again.  The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports the Rose Bowl has been both a thriving bowling alley and a boarded up nuisance.  It is still for sale, but the guys who own it now believe they can make it into something new.

Rose Bowl co-owner Chris Whinery admits he's got a lot of work to do, but he sees lots of promise in a 35,000 square foot Route 66 icon.

"We're still maybe a few months away from having everything ready, but it's a good start," said Whinery.

Whinery and his uncle, Sam Baker, hope to finish a renovation of the Rose Bowl and open it as an events center.

"I would like to see it as close to the original as possible," said Baker.

For an icon, it's relatively young, built in 1962.

A generation of Tulsans visited the Rose Bowl and it became a landmark of Route 66, but business in the last decade has fallen off and it closed.

A series of fires burned out the front offices and it was boarded up because of frequent break-ins.         

When the renovation started, the lanes were pulled up and the pin machines were taken out.  Now it's mainly a shell building big enough to hold about 3,000 people.

"Have an events center here and draw car clubs, motorcycle rallies, Route 66 themes, and 60's theme and have fun on Route 66 and draw people to Tulsa," said Baker.

The owners bought some restaurant booths from the closed Celebration Station and are working to replace the distinctive lighting for the inside.

The bowling lanes are stacked in the corner and it's still a long way from being a jewel along the highway.

"We feel like we're a Tulsa landmark and we feel like a part of Tulsa's history and future and we want people to come back here to concerts and events and enjoy coming back to the Rose Bowl," said Whinery.

There has already been one event there during the renovation and there's a consignment sale scheduled for May.

Find more stories on's Local News page.