The Ainslie Group which has owned the Canberra City Bowling Club club since the 1990s plans to relocate bowling greens to its Gungahlin club in two years' time.
In the interim, as the sale of the Braddon Club in Elders Street is finalised, bowls will continue.
Ainslie Group chief executive Simon Patterson said Canberra City Bowling Club had been financially unviable for many years. The group's president Malcolm Scholes said in March the bowling club was valued between $2.5 million and $3.5 million. The Ainslie Group had spent more than $3.5 million since taking it over in the late 1990s.
A club member and neighbour, John Mackay, who warned of anger over an impending sale in March, said on Thursday he was unconcerned about redevelopment if it was done sensitively, but rezoning the land would take time.
"The concern was they would sell it, and it would go to wrack and ruin for maybe two years before they will get development plans. I think it is zoned community land or something like that, it has to go through serious re-zoning processes before you get into the planning design approvals," Mr Mackay said.
"So the concern is someone will come around and nail the doors closed and stick fences around the place and it will be a disaster."
Mr Mackay said he called in on Saturday afternoon to find the club house almost empty, three people in the bar, and two out of 15 tables occupied.
"The one poker machine in the place was broken, and none of the three bar staff knew how to fix it. It was a pretty sad old scene," Mr Mackay said.
Canberra City Bowling Club president Bob Powell said the move was "sad but inevitable".
"We'll be taking our 85-year-old identity to another location but we still survive as a club, unlike some other bowls clubs that have closed in the past.
"It's a lovely club, it's close to the city and that's why it's obviously so attractive for development."
Bowls organiser Mike Woolley lives three doors up and said while not unexpected, the move was "unfortunate" and meant the loss of his regular bowls venue, watering hole and dinner spot.
"I won't be going out to Gungahlin. It's quicker for me to go to Queanbeyan RSL on the back road, 16 minutes it takes me in car and they've got three beautiful greens.
Mr Woolley, who joined the club in 2012, said it would be an upheaval for some elderly members who might need to give up the sport.
It would also be sad to see the loss of another pocket of green, recreational space in the area.
"We're going to end up like New York or London with very small pockets of green space."
The bowling club's 2013/14 annual report recorded income of $96,728, and greens operating expenses of $106,000. At the time the club had 154 financial members.
Mr Patterson said the Ainslie Group, which owns the Gungahlin Lakes Club and Ainslie Football and Social Club, could no longer afford to operate outdated and uneconomical facilities reliant on heavy subsidies.
Mr Patterson said the Ainslie Group posted a $500,000 profit last year and was on track to improve on that this year.
In 2013 the Canberra Times reported the Ainslie Group had parted company with its chief executive and been forced to refinance up to $5 million in debt as it struggled to pay for a costly revamp of the Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club. It sustained a net operating loss of nearly $2 million in 2012, with auditors raising doubts late in the year about the clubs' survival as a going concern.