Demolition begins on blighted Century Bowl

Century Bowl – Merced’s beloved former bowling alley that has been a desolate eyesore for more than a decade – will soon be gone forever.

Crews began demolition work on the building at 2020 E. Childs Ave. on Monday morning.

In February, residents addressed the Merced City Council about the vacant building, complaining about the blight and asking the city to level the building.

Graffiti, weeds, trash, old mattresses and couches overtook the once-busy bowling alley and nightclub called Mulligan’s Rock ’n Roll Sports Bar. Mulligan’s closed in 1999. Transients inhabited the building from time to time and were believed to have caused a fire that ripped through the building in 2007.

The building had a long history of code violations. But, after the February complaints, code enforcement officers contacted the property owners, who responded quickly to cover graffiti and remove debris.

Soon, a new development will breathe life into the site with the addition of a gas station and a Steak ’n Shake restaurant.

Don Surdich, who writes a bowling column for the Sun-Star, said he misses the old bowling alley. “I bowled there forever,” he said.

For some time, the bowling alley hosted a tournament called the Gateway Doubles that attracted bowlers from all over the Valley, Sacramento and the Bay Area.

Merced hasn’t had a bowling alley since Century Bowl closed. The nearest bowling alley is in Atwater.

A new bowling alley and entertainment center, dubbed the Aqua Entertainment Center, recently held a soft opening in Los Banos. Not all attractions are open to the public, but a grand opening is expected within a month.