Nfld. & Labrador

Pool players snookered as Dooly's in downtown St. John's closes

Dooly's leaves behind a void for those who used the pool hall as the base of operations for the city's local Canadian Pool Players Association league.

Local pool league finds itself behind the eight ball

The Dooly's pool hall on Water Street is closed, and a local branch of the Canadian Pool Players Association says the franchise location on George Street west is its unofficial second home. (Shutterstock)

Chalk it up to a changing city core.

As businesses consider their future in the downtown area of St. John's, the latest closure — Dooly's Bar — leaves behind a void for those who used the pool hall as the unofficial headquarters of the city's local Canadian Poolplayers Association league.

"I mean there's people absolutely devastated," Monica Butler, the CPA operator for Newfoundland East told CBC Radio's On the Go. "That's where they met a lot of their friends. We call ourselves the CPA family because that's what we are. We're a family." 

There were 42 teams playing out of the downtown Dooly's each week, each with two to eight players, all of them now looking to rack somewhere else. 

They learned their favourite pool hall was closing as league play wrapped — the week before Christmas.

Some were grateful, celebrating the 20-year run of the franchise location.

"Everyone was hugging," she said. "It was almost kind of like a funeral, you know, to celebrate somebody's life. But, at the same time you're happy and you're enjoying it but you kind of got a tear rolling down your face every now and then." 

For Butler, though, it was all business as she worked to find a new home for the league's divisional playoffs which start on Jan. 2, just a few weeks away at the time. 

Second home

Butler says for a lot of players, the club was like a second home, and many would take their lunch hour to get in some practice before heading back to work or school. 

"It was a great shock to the league and to the players," she said. "We really didn't expect it, and we're really going to miss them." 

"So many people have met down there, and got engaged, and families grew out of it — just by meeting at Dooly's."

The local branch of the CPA will be forced out of the city's downtown core and forced to find other locations to continue league play. (CBC)

There are 73 active players in the league today who have played more than 500 matches, and two players pushing 1,500 matches.

The league has host locations in place for 2019, and Butler says teams seem to be happy about where they'll be playing in the future. 

However, championship tournaments will be the next hurdle. 

"We're talking about over 50 teams competing for their trips to Las Vegas with minimal space," she said. "You can't find a location anywhere in the city that has enough pool tables and has enough capacity to fit 450 players."

"Dooly's has been our host location since 2002," Butler said. "There's some staff members there that have been there for 10-plus years, and they're very much a part of the CPA family as well."  

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador   

With files from On The Go