Remembering The Ranch Bowl: The Markel Years…

Category: Blog — @ 5:50 pm August 23, 2007

The interviews for the Matt Markel/Ranch Bowl story (which I placed online this morning, here) were conducted on two separate occasions — once in June 2006, and a second time last week. The No. 1 question that people ask when I tell them that I talked to Markel: How’s he doing? People know about his stroke, but few have actually spoken with him in a long time. My personal non-medical assessment is that Markel was much more alert and fluent last week than he was a year ago, when his speech was still choppy and hesitant. The improvement, Markel said, was the result of speech therapy, which he received at Lakeside, along with other therapy as part of his recovery. He said Lakeside is only a temporary home, and that he eventually will be returning to his house.

The story covers Markel’s history with The Ranch Bowl, from its purchase through its glory years, the radio station, the studio, and finally his stroke and the venue’s eventual sale to Mike Brannan and Dan Crowell. The plan was for Wayne Brekke to pick up the story from there, with interviews with Brannan and Crowell, but Wayne didn’t have any luck getting in touch with them. That being the case, you can get a glimpse at what happened next by reading this interview with Brannan from back in 2002, and this follow-up column I wrote few years later, when it was announced that the property had been sold for development by Wal-Mart. Did Brannan ever really intend to fix the place up and make it into a first-class venue? We may never know, though I’ve always had my doubts.

It’s fun to speculate what would have happened if someone else had bought The Ranch Bowl. Would it still be open today? Depending on the owners, probably. Had Brannan actually followed-through on his original intentions, I think it would have been a huge success. The location was absolutely prime. And now it’s going to be just another Wal-Mart, a store that I refuse to shop at. What a waste, what a shame.

FYI… the photo used at the top of my story was taken from behind the Ranch Bowl property looking east. You can sort of make out where the sand volleyball courts used to be (to the left).

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An update on yesterday’s item regarding Dundee (Dario) Days, I’m now told that Capgun Coup will not be performing at the outdoor event. I’ll pass on more details as I get them.

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