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East Grand Forks bowling alley to be auctioned online today through Thursday

The future of East Grand Forks' bowling alley could be decided in an auction this week. Liberty Lanes, at 1500 Fifth Ave. N.E., goes up for sale at 11 a.m. today on the online auction site, Tranzon.com, and bidding will continue until 12:45 p.m. ...

The future of East Grand Forks' bowling alley could be decided in an auction this week.

Liberty Lanes, at 1500 Fifth Ave. N.E., goes up for sale at 11 a.m. today on the online auction site, Tranzon.com, and bidding will continue until 12:45 p.m. Thursday.

The 37-year-old bowling alley's starting price is $99,000, according to the auction company.

Up for bid is the 16-lane bowling alley with its bar and grill in a 16,672-square-foot building on a 2-acre lot off of U.S. Highway 2 east of town.

Business was going on as usual this week at the bowling alley, despite the upcoming auction.

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The owner of the business is Business Loan Express, a South Carolina-based lending company that's had financial problems of its own.

Ups, downs

Liberty Lanes' name is a tribute to the bicentennial year, 1976, when it opened. It has had its ups and downs over the years, going into foreclosure in 2007, according Herald archives.

Manager Pat Gaddie told the Herald in 2010 that the business was in no danger of closing, despite the downturn in the popularity of bowling and Minnesota's then-recent smoking ban.

"At the height of things, we had 26 leagues," Gaddie said at the time. "Now, we have seven. But we're up 11 teams from last year."

Business Loan Express, also known as BLX or Ciena Capital, filed for bankruptcy in 2008 facing projected losses of $32 million.

Bloomberg news reported that year that one of the company's executive vice presidents was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for conspiring to fraudulently issue or acquire $77 million in loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Liberty Lanes is one of two bowling alleys in the area, along with Red Ray Lanes on South Washington Street in Grand Forks.

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On the Web: Details of the online auction are available at Tranzon.com.

Call Bjorke at (701) 780-1117, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1117 or send e-mail to cbjorke@gfherald.com .

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