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Pinball Hall of Fame files plans for arcade near Las Vegas Strip

Updated May 1, 2019 - 10:39 pm

After buying land on Las Vegas Boulevard last year, operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have filed plans for a new arcade near the south edge of the Strip.

Pinball Hall of Fame management wants to construct a one-story, 26,880-square-foot facility on a vacant parcel at 4915 Las Vegas Blvd. South, near Russell Road, county records show.

The building would be 50 feet tall. Plans also include a 71-foot-high animated freestanding sign.

Clark County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the project plans May 8.

The arcade would be roughly three times the size of the Pinball Hall of Fame’s current location near UNLV, bring a rare burst of construction to a sleepy stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, and offer tourists a spot for low-priced entertainment.

Tim Arnold, who founded and operates the Pinball Hall of Fame with his wife, Charlotte Owens, told the Review-Journal on Wednesday that the current arcade, 1610 E. Tropicana Ave., has about 250 machines on the floor and that he wants to have 600 to 700 at the new one.

He hopes to open the facility in a year or a year-and-a-half.

Arnold said his customers like two things — free parking and free admission — and “that’s exactly who lines up” to take pictures at the nearby “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

In Las Vegas, he said, there is

a lot of emphasis on high-end spas, DJs and the like, but “it’s been totally forgotten that Las Vegas was built on” tourists coming in “to blow a few bucks and then go home.”

As he put it, there needs “to be something between going to the park and looking at the bushes grow, and going and spending money for a jet-set vacation.”

Arnold — who said his title is “director of things and stuff,” formerly “director of stuff and things” — is president of the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club, a nonprofit group that operates the arcade and owns the 1.76-acre parcel on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Through the club, Arnold bought the land last summer for about $4.5 million.

Around that time, Owens said they wanted to build a facility that would look, on the outside, like a pinball machine.

Arnold said Wednesday that they’ve scrapped that idea and instead want to build something simpler and less expensive.

The south Strip area is home to Mandalay Bay and some other megaresorts, but the other side of the boulevard, where the arcade would be built, has vacant lots, boarded-up buildings and a few decades-old motels.

Still, Arnold and Owens aren’t the first ones to propose a project for their land, once home to the Pollyanna Motel.

Florida investor Todd Roth acquired the motel property in 2004, during the real estate bubble, for more than $18 million and filed plans to build a 26-story condo tower.

Roth reached a deal to sell the plot for $65 million, court records show. But the sale fell through, the tower was never built, and the property went into foreclosure in 2008.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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