The city that always sleeps

Ellensburg nightlife is considered dull by students, with few places staying open. Some of the businesses open late are bars such as Blue Rock and Club 301. This does not leave students under 21 with many late night activities


The streets of Ellensburg are empty with few vehicles passing through. Empty streets like this one show the lack of nighttime entertainment options for students who are under the age of 21.

Nick Tucker, Senior News Reporter

The Ellensburg nightlife may be lacking in options for students who can’t drink or choose not to. Many students who attend CWU and live in Ellensburg either aren’t old enough to legally drink, choose not to or simply don’t want all of
their entertainment options to involve alcohol. One of these students is 18-year-old freshman Natalie Rae.

“Unless you are 21-plus there is almost nothing to do at nights, especially on the weekends,” Rae said. “[CWU] doesn’t have a lot of events on weekendsand the only thing I can do is go on a hikeor watch Netflix.”

The Observer asked 15 students for their opinions and out of their responses, all of them said that Ellensburg doesn’t have enough entertainment options for students that don’t involve alcohol. Those same students were asked for
their ideas on what they would like to see.

“If Ellensburg could remodel and reopen the bowling alley, that would be sick. Or maybe something like an arcade?” Rae said. “Something that anyone can go to downtown, not just another bar.”

Nine of the students questioned mentioned that they would like a bowling alley, and six mentioned an arcade. Ellensburg did have a bowling alley in the past, the Rodeo Bowl on Wildcat Way.

However, it was closed in 2013 and bought by Kittitas County which has used it as a storage facility for the rodeo grounds. Since then, there hasn’t appeared to be any plans to reopen the Rodeo Bowl specifically, but Ellensburg students may still be in luck. According to CWU’s Executive Director of Student Involvement Jeff Rosenberry, students expressed their desire for more entertainment options in a survey conducted by the SURC in early March.

“One of the things that we are hearing from students as a result of the first survey is that they want to have a gaming center somewhere on campus,” Rosenberry said. “We’re looking into that as an opportunity to expand services, whether that be an arcade or a bowling alley.”

As well as long-term additions, at the beginning of the academic year, Rosenberry and his team have created a task force to look deeper into late-night programming and ways to make sure students have the services they need. As a result of student interest, the SURC extended its hours at the beginning of fall quarter, closing at 11 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. At the beginning of spring quarter, opening hours were changed from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m., and late-night dining options were increased with more of the Central Market’s venues open late at night.

One concern was brought up by Charles Griscom, a 19-year-old history major. He said that the City of Ellensburg’s 10 p.m. noise ordinance makes it difficult to host or attend social events, with a high risk of getting reported for a noise violation.

Exceptions are sometimes made for the university, according to Rosenberry, who said that the Office of Student Involvement sometimes submit requests to the city to waive the noise ordinance for specific events.

“Our campus activities team works very closely with the city for a variety of different programs throughout the year, making exceptions for student programming,” Rosenberry said. “We work closely with the social media outlets and the local media to let the city know when we are going to be going past that ordinance to be respectful to the community.”

Some examples of events that have warranted an ordinance exception are the Wildcat Welcome Weekend Paint U music event in Fall 2018 and the upcoming Student Appreciation Day on May 23.

Ellensburg does have a movie theater which often plays late-night movies on weekends, however, some students who don’t have cars may feel that it is too far away. However, CWU students do pay a $3 per quarter fee which pays in part for the Ellensburg transit system which runs directly from campus to the theater.

“Between that, the events we host on-campus that you can find in Hype, there are lots of late-night things for students to do,” Rosenberry said. “We are continuing to add more, and I encourage students to always come by my office and express what they’d like to see.”