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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 10, October 2010, Posted On: 9/16/2010

Retro Arcade Museum Closes In Downstate New York

Marcus Webb
pinball, pinball museum, Retro Arcade Museum, classic games, Fred Bobrow, Beacon NY, Beacon NY arcade, Steve Gold, coin-op news, classic pinball machine, arcade video game

BEACON, NY -- The Retro Arcade Museum will not reopen for business despite a new ordinance passed this month by Beacon, NY's City Council that was designed to save the museum by permitting arcades on Main Street for the first time.

The museum's creator and curator, pinball enthusiast Fred Bobrow, said he is bankrupt. He plans to sell off his machine inventory and leave the town in "disgust," according to press reports.

Bobrow opened the popular facility in Beacon in 2008, eventually expanding his onsite inventory to 50 classic pinball machines and videogames that represented just a few favorites from his personal collection of more than 150 machines. The museum eventually became a trendy spot to book parties or visit to play games. Other business owners on Main Street said they approved of the museum because it attracted more people to the city's business district.

But in June, noise complaints prompted city officials to investigate. The city inspector promptly ordered the museum to shut down, saying its $10 cover charge made it an "arcade" and therefore illegal because, according to local ordinances, arcades were not allowed on the town's main drag.

Three months of confusion and inaction by city officials followed. Bobrow told reporters that the city's hapless insistence on enforcing the letter of the law -- and bureaucrats' constantly changing explanations and instructions about how he could or should comply -- was a form of "insanity" that ruined his business and deprived Beacon of a thriving enterprise.

The museum is now a shuttered storefront, soon to be one more vacant eyesore among many on the city's main thoroughfare. Supporters said in the current tough economy, Bobrow's museum is unlikely to be replaced by a new business anytime soon.

The brand-new ordinance says that certain types of arcades are permissible on Main Street, as long as they feature "vintage" machines. According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, officials still have not defined what "vintage" means. Bobrow called the city's action too little, too late.

Mayor Steve Gold termed the entire affair "very, very unfortunate."

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