Skee ball, bean bag tournaments could draw crowds to area establishments

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

After having spent some time in the Chicago suburbs over the past weekend, I was exposed to a couple of cool recreational ideas I think could work in our area. I saw multiple posters recruiting players for an indoor bags league and others for a skee ball league.

Let’s start with the idea for an indoor bags league. The game is hugely popular during the summertime, and I know the Olympic Tavern has a weekly tournament on their outdoor deck when the weather permits. A large number of people of all ages already throw bags in their front and back yards, and it’s not uncommon to see the game being played at family gatherings in almost every park in the city. I don’t think there’d be any problem finding enough people willing to take the game indoors.

This could be a marketing tool for any of the local bars looking for a boost during their down times. The investment would be minimal. A good set of bags and the target boards used can be purchased for less than the cost of a couple of cases of premium beer. Even a handmade custom set with the bar’s logo emblazoned on them wouldn’t break the budget of most places.

I envision teams from Oscar’s, Murphy’s, Second Cousin’s, Olympic, Shooters and any other establishment willing to host a game each week battling for bags bragging rights. Someone needs to take the lead on this and run with it. I really think it would work.

Then, there is the idea of skee ball leagues. This no doubt would require a bigger investment. Right now, the only places I know of in this area that have skee ball machines are Chuck E. Cheese and Volcano Falls. Setting aside the initial cost of purchasing a bank of machines, I think the entrepreneur who did stick his neck out on this one could come out smelling like a rose.

Imagine you are the only adult place in town offering skee ball to your patrons. That would automatically set you apart from all of your competitors. It would also give your customers something else to do while they were in your establishment. The more time they spend in your bar usually equates to the more money they spend in your bar. I don’t think it would take too long for the bar owner to recoup his investment in the machines.

I know this topic isn’t earth-shattering or life-changing, but it is something for the local entrepreneurs to consider. Electronic dart machines were once just an idea and now there aren’t too many bars in America that don’t have them. Could skee-ball machines be the next entertainment wave in adult gathering places? Why not?

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Feb. 8-14, 2012, issue

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