- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) - A North Platte landmark has closed its doors.

The Cedar Bowl and Touchdown Club closed on Monday.

Owner Scott Rasmussen said after the facility fulfilled its contract with the women’s state bowling tournament on Sunday, he was done.

“The business has been up for sale for about four months now,” he told the North Platte Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1qgjq3o). “We had to honor our contract to the state bowling, and I decided to close the doors after that.”

Despite the flurry of rumors circulating around town, Rasmussen said he has not sold the property or business.

“We’ve had a few inquiries but no firm offers,” he said. “I would prefer that someone purchase it to keep it a bowling center, night club and restaurant.”

Harold Rasmussen first opened the bowling alley in 1955. Harold’s son, Butch, took over management three years later.

“My dad started the business in 1955 at Rodeo Road and Willow streets,” Butch said. “I went to work as the manager there in 1958 and then bought the operation from my family in 1986.”

In 1976, Butch decided to move the Cedar Bowl from the north side of North Platte to its current location at 1100 S. Jeffers.

“I decided to move it because of all the expansion in town to the south,” Butch said. “I realized that if we stayed on the north side, someone else would come along and build a bowling operation on the south side.”

Butch sold the business to his son, Scott, in 1999.

All decisions about the business have been Scott’s for the past 15 years, Butch said.

“When I sold the business to Scott, all the decision-making fell into his lap,” Butch said.

Scott said the time to close was now.

“Summer is not a good time for the bowling business,” he said. “It was a difficult decision, but it got to the point where the property was worth more than the business and I had a great offer to go into business with my brother, so I decided to go that route.”

Scott plans to move to Florida, where he will go to work with his brother who runs three car dealerships with more than 400 employees.

“He called me and said he needed help,” Scott said. “I said that sounded like a great plan to me.”

There have been a few inquiries about the property but no offers, Scott said.

“Whatever rumors have been going around are just that, rumors,” he said.

The business has commitments through May 20 and Scott said he plans to honor those.

“Any after-graduation parties or school events or birthday parties scheduled, we will have staff there to handle,” he said.

The Cedar Bowl and Touchdown Club had a combined 35 employees.

Bowling as an industry has been on a skid since the mid-1980s, Butch said.

“The number of games bowled has been on a steady decline, except for once every five years or so when we would host a state bowling tournament,” Butch said.

Times have changed, people’s leisure habits have changed, he said.

“We used to have women’s leagues in the afternoons,” he said. “Then many of the women went to work and didn’t have time to spend an afternoon bowling. Their kids got busier with things like soccer.”

The walls of the Touchdown Club are covered with sports memorabilia - much of it Husker items - collected by Butch.

“I’m the one who bought and hung the 650 pictures on the wall,” Butch said. “Scott bought the Touchdown, so he is the owner except for stuff that is on loan.”

The memorabilia is included in the purchase price for the property, Scott said.

“It’s all staying there,” Scott said. “If someone purchases it for a bowling center or bar, it comes with purchase. If a Home Depot or another business just wants to level the building, we would come in and auction off all of the equipment, the bowling lanes, pinsetters and everything in the building.”

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Information from: The North Platte Telegraph, http://www.nptelegraph.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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