It started as a joke but it actually makes some sense! I mean, how much useage does the shuttlebay actually get during an average mission?
And yes, it's certainly a prime location for the oft-debated bowling alley
I think a wishful nod to the "Enemy Within" when CBS did TOS-R would've been a throwaway scene of the hangar deck converted for some other purpose (and thus no shuttles). The in-universe explanation that Kirk didn't send shuttles to pick up Sulu was because of the SF Annual Bowling Tournament