Meet Tim Arnold, the Man Behind America's Last True Pinball Arcade

Photo of Lauryn Wilder
30 August 2017

In the aisles of the Pinball Hall of Fame, a 10,000-square foot building that was once an auto parts shop, the soft ping of the machines can be heard in the background. The owner and operator of the museum, Tim Arnold, tries to describe what the Pinball Hall of Fame is.

He says: “Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a great cultural treasure or it’s a bunch of old pinball machines we dug out of dumpsters and stuck in an old auto parts store.”

In its 11th year of operation, Arnold describes the place as a venture by himself and a group of collectors with an abundance of machines, and nothing to do with them. They decided to open the Hall of Fame as a gift to the public, waiving tickets and admission fees. As a not-for-profit organization, Arnold and his colleagues keep the prices of most games at just a quarter, staying true to the original prices of the machines.

Arnold correlates the appeal of the Pinball Hall of Fame to the desire to relive his youth. He admits that pinball was a hallmark of his own youth; as a kid, he and a group of friends pooled their money together to buy their own machine from a local pizza parlor owner. However, he insists he’s not a pinball fanatic.

“I like it, but I don’t love it.”

While the Pinball Hall of Fame is a popular tourist destination, Arnold says that most of his patrons are adults. He describes most of the people that visit as tourists with a passing interest, or pinball fanatics with nitpicking requests.

And when it came time to deciding where to open the Pinball Hall of Fame, Arnold knew it had to be Las Vegas.

“This [Las Vegas] is the place you should come to if you want to see weirdos and the Pinball Hall of Fame.”

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