The walls tell all: inside the history of UA's bowling alley


The University of Akron (UA) has a variety of athletic facilities on campus where students can unwind and be around friends. From the basketball courts in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center to the Lee R. Jackson Practice Field, students are always able to find a place that feels like home.

But no other spot boasts such a rich history of achievements and generosity as the Edward G. Elias Bowling Alley in the Roo Lounge. The facility is not only a bowling alley, but a museum.

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It all began with Edward G. “Eddie” Elias ‘58, an Akron native who became a sports agent and created the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) in 1958 involving 33 professional bowlers. Before the PBA, no bowling organization ran tournament circuits. Elias’ innovative idea led the PBA to become one of the longest-continuing sports series on network TV today, with some regarding him as the “Father of Bowling.”

Upon Elias’ death in 1998, his wife Peggy played a vital role in financing UA’s bowling alley to bring the sport to UA students. Peggy also provided many photos and memorabilia of Elias during his career, which can be seen hanging throughout the bowling alley walls.

Peggy’s deep commitment to helping UA students also led to the creation of the Edward G. Elias Bowling Tournament, an annual event hosted by the UA bowling alley that provided scholarships to both male and female winners. Each year the tournament, which ran until 2018, provided custom shirts, and each year’s shirts are displayed throughout the bowling alley.

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“We have so many donors who genuinely care about UA,” Kim Cole, vice president of advancement and executive director of the University of Akron Foundation said proudly. “The opportunities students have received because of the Elias family are truly spectacular.”

Next time you are bowling at the Edward G. Elias Bowling Alley, look to the walls to experience more than 50 years of UA bowling history.

Story by Beau Balizet '25