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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Bowlero, which has consolidated and upgraded one of America's sleepiest sports industries, is expected to go public later this quarter at a $2.6 billion valuation, via a SPAC led by former World Wrestling Entertainment co-presidents Michelle Wilson and George Barrios.

The big picture: The company says it has 321 bowling centers in North America, which is eight times more than its next-closest rival, and often owns its own real estate. Its assets also include the Professional Bowlers Association.

  • Expect the SPAC deal to enable more bowling center acquisitions, as there are still thousands of independent mom-and-pops.

The big picture: There’s growing momentum around casual athletics, in which bowling is the first mover — particularly among younger people who are seeking a night out that combines socializing with something beyond sitting at a bar.

  • Topgolf, an operator of driving range centers, was recently acquired at a $2 billion valuation by Callaway Golf, and is expanding.
  • TOCA, an operator of experiential soccer centers, recently raised $40 million in Series E funding, led by a former Topgolf investor. This one is much more focused on sport than social, but the underlying trendlines are similar.

The bottom line: Bowling is going upscale and to the right, with investors taking notice. Don't be surprised to soon see lots of rollup plays that view themselves as Bowlero-for-X.

Go deeper

Manhattan, Westchester prosecutors request evidence from Cuomo investigation

Gov. Cuomo during a press conference in New York City on Aug. 2. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The district attorneys for Manhattan and Westchester County on Wednesday requested evidence related to New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), according to a letter obtained by NBC News.

Why it matters: The district attorneys are investigating if alleged conduct highlighted in an independent report published by James' office that occurred in their jurisdictions was criminal in nature.

Scoop: Buzzy media startup Puck launches in beta

Puck.news

Puck, a splashy new digital media company, is coming out of stealth mode, Axios has learned. The company debuted its landing page, puck.news, on Wednesday, and will officially launch its website in September.

Why it matters: The company has been quietly building a roster of top talent, but hadn't confirmed its branding or exact business plans up until now.

NOAA's updated hurricane outlook calls for even more storms in 2021

Hurricane Dorian seen on Sept. 2, 2019. Photo: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday updated its 2021 Atlantic hurricane seasonal forecast, slightly increasing expectations for the number of named storms and powerful hurricanes.

Why it matters: With the U.S. already reeling from extreme heat and wildfires, disaster response agencies are overstretched. A particularly destructive and active hurricane season could overwhelm some of its response capacity.