The Pinball Hall of Fame--
A Dream Come True

By Bob Herbison
Woodrail Editor, PinGame Journal

Photos By Ed Pizio

(This article originally appeared in PGJ Issue #115 ) 

<i>Tim building his dream</i>
Tim building his dream
Dreams ... we all have them. But they don’t turn into reality through luck or wishing. That only happens with persistence and hard work. And we all got a spectacular reminder of that recently when Tim Arnold opened the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. Tim has been working towards this goal for many years. He has literally dedicated his life during this period to achieving his dream. He had a lot of help and support from pinball fans around the world, but the driving force that brought this miracle about was Tim Arnold.
On Friday, January 13th, 2006 Tim “unofficially” opened the doors of the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. What an ironic date to launch a venture in a town built on luck!! I was lucky enough to be in Vegas on a weeklong business trip at the time so I made a pilgrimage to the shrine on Saturday evening the 14th.

I climb into a taxi at the Venetian and give the driver the address – 3330 East Tropicana. It’s not an area that cabs routinely service so curiosity finally gets the best of the hack operator and he asks me if I am going to a restaurant. When I tell him the destination is a pinball museum he is intrigued and I give him some background on the project.

The Hall of Fame does not face Tropicana and is set back a ways from the street but fortunately it is next to a movie theater. The theater has a large and well-lit sign out at the street and on the building as well so it is definitely the landmark you want to be looking for. As we turn into the shopping center and approach the theater there is little doubt we are in the right place – the Hall has windows all across the front and an impressive and brightly lit row of wedge heads are shining a pinball beacon out into the Vegas night. As I exit the taxi I encourage the driver to keep the Pinball Hall of Fame in mind if he has out-of-towners looking for something interesting to do in Las Vegas.
As I enter the Hall of Fame I can quickly see that things are certainly not complete yet, but I still must marvel at the progress that has been made by Tim in the few short days that have been available to actually move in and set games up. The space is far wider than it is deep and the rows of games are laid out across the wide dimension. There are five complete rows of games and one partial row with room for a seventh one. Not all of the games that are set up were functional on the Saturday evening that I was there but a majority of them were. The rows are organized for the most part by era and/or manufacturer. There are a few exceptions but it is very easy to find a particular style of pinball machine if you have interests along specific lines. The place is clearly dedicated to pinball but there are some interesting other diversions; a pitch and bat, some really cool mechanical arcade games – but no video games (this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Tim!).

I drop some dollar bills into the change machine that sits on the first row and wander off with my quarters to play (everything is 25 cents or 50 cents). Being an EM kind of guy I stick to those games but find I have an amazing choice of games. I work for a while on the wedgeheads on the front row – an excellent selection of 60s and 70s Gottliebs. While I enjoy them all I get hooked on a 1964 Bowling Queen that just plays as sweet as you could want. I eventually work my way around to the 60s and 70s Ballys. Tim has a great collection of 60s Bally games, many of which are very seldom seen. They offer a real contrast to the Gottlieb games in both their artwork and the asymmetrical playfields. The rarity of the 60s Ballys aside, a far more common Fireball captures more of my Bally quarters than any other choice. Once again the game plays so crisply that you can get the full enjoyment and experience from it.
<i>Tim takes a break from pinball</i>
Tim takes a break from pinball
I spend a good deal of time shooting the breeze with Tim, which is always an experience in and of itself! He relates to me some of the trails and tribulations of acquiring the space and finishing it out. I pick his brain for some restoration tips……the man is a wealth of information! I also took the opportunity to observe other people who were in the Hall. As you might expect with pinball, the group covered a broad spectrum of humanity. There were kids, teens, young adults and middle-agers. The proximity of the movie theater is a good thing and, of course, no accident – it is one of the reasons Tim picked this location.

Without a doubt several of the people had headed over to the Hall after leaving the theater. The common reaction of those who came in “cold” was “Wow – look at all of these cool, old pinball machines!” They were just blown away. And this is the prime motivation that has led Tim Arnold to spend years of his life making this dream come true. It is a unique opportunity to introduce and re-introduce thousands of people to the magic of pinball.

Tim had the help of many, many people in the pinball community to get things to this point. But we now must get behind this project more than ever. We cannot think it is complete. This is a huge milestone, for sure. Now that the Pinball Hall of Fame exists we must make sure it survives. We must support it, tell people about it, promote it and patronize it.

We are on the brink of giving pinball a boost it has not had in a very long time….but we must follow through. The opening of the Hall of Fame is cause to celebrate. But it is also time to rededicate ourselves to the task of bringing pinball back to the presence it deserves in the world. Tim, and all who helped, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. Onward and upward!



Pins and Vids—A series of pinball and video DVD interviews and features that donate their entire profit to the Pinball Hall.

TOP (This Old Pinball) is a prestigious series of pinball repair and restoration DVDs that support the Pinball Hall. These videos are recognized by the pinball hobby as among the best. This site contains a wealth of information on pinball and many types of electromechanical arcade games as well.

PinGame Journal –THE publication for the pinball hobbiest. In continuous publication since 1991, the PinGame Journal is regarded as the world's premier pinball magazine. 

International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) is dedicated to the promotion of competitive pinball through sanctioning events and compiling results. They also sponsor an international pinball championship each spring.