Into the frame: Station 300

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With the opening of Station 300 this month, Bluffton doesn’t just get a place to hurl a few rocks. In the short term, it gets an entertainment mecca that pumps money into the local economy. In the long term, it gets the chance to establish itself as headquarters to a new chain of entertainment megaplexes.

After three years of planning, a $7.3 million entertainment facility is opening this month on Buckwalter Parkway. And while Station 300’s emphasis may be pinned on bowling, the owners have a broader game plan.

“This is not your father’s bowling alley,” said managing partner Gary Trimm. “The idea is to have more than bowling.”

There will be plenty more, and, yes, dad is invited too.

In addition to “high-tech” bowling, the 33,000-square-foot facility at Buckwalter Place will have a large arcade, a sports bar, an upscale dining area with indoor and outdoor seating and party rooms.

And the owners have spared no details to make the experience an interesting one.

From “Cosmic Bowling” — where balls glow beneath black lights and a light show is set to pulsing music — to large flat-screen TVs at each station, odds are bowlers haven’t seen anything quite like it. While there are about 6,500 bowling centers nationwide, only about 120 have these high-tech toys and this one will be a first for the Lowcountry and surrounding region, Trimm said.

He’s hoping it will draw customers from across Beaufort and Jasper counties and the Savannah area, bringing an estimated $3 million into the town each year. It will employ seven to nine full-time workers and 40 to 50 part-timers, with an annual payroll of about $750,000.

Generating an income is what inspired Trimm and another partner, Gary Brust, to get rolling in the first place. Shortly after retiring to Hilton Head Island, Trimm felt the economy slipping into the gutter and he needed a new venture to secure his future, one not tied to the stock market.

He was intrigued with the growing popularity of high-tech bowling and thought such a center would be perfect for Bluffton’s demographics of retirees, families and college students. Brust helped find other partners.

The center will be open 365 days a year and, with so many local retirees, Trimm hopes it will stay busy during the afternoon while attracting adults at night and children and families on the weekends.

And that’s just the start. Eventually, the owners would like to work with other developers to expand the complex into an entertainment district.

They also hope this is the first of several bowling centers they will open in coming years, with their headquarters in Bluffton.

“Right now our focus is getting this one up,” Trimm said. “We think we can replicate it in a number of areas.”

Station 300’s grand opening is Jan. 20-22, but its doors open Jan. 7 to give the staff time to work out any bugs before the official launch.

For more information, visit www.station300bluffton.com or call 843-815-BOWL.