Nearly 15 years ago, Chris Hutt and his friends were tailgating at the Indianapolis 500 when they came up with the idea for fowling (pronounced FOH-ling), a game that incorporates the fun of throwing a football with the skill of knocking down bowling pins.
After years of setting up temporary sporting venues — in the parking lot of Detroit's Stonehouse Bar, the warehouse belonging to the father-in-law of a friend, and so on — Hutt officially opened the Fowling Warehouse in Hamtramck for what he calls a "built-in crowd of fowlers."
The 34,000-square-foot space, within the Eight and Sand business complex at 3901 Christopher St., features 20 fowling lanes, two bars, and a 175-seat beer garden. The facility adheres to a bring-your-own-food policy, although Hutt intends to bring in food trucks and pop-up restaurants down the road.
"There's something about the game that's infectious," Hutt says. "You don't have to be an athlete to play. You see people who have never thrown a football before beating former football players."
The game is played with a regulation football. Two teams set up 20 bowling pins on two lanes. The object is simple: knock down all 10 of the opponent's pins before they knock down yours.
"Some guys think you have to throw a perfect spiral, but we're not playing football," Hutt says. "We're fowling. And when you're trying to knock down bowling pins, if the ball comes in wobbly — which would be considered a terrible throw in football — you're more likely to hit the pins."
Fowling Warehouse will soon begin offering league nights and, in time, intends to expand the reach of the sport throughout the state and country, says Laura Sullivan, director of marketing and operations
"This is the first and only fowling warehouse in the universe," Sullivan says. "Not many other places can say that. Hopefully, based on the continued interest we've had, we can look toward franchising in the future."