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Glendale prepares to sell vintage arcade machines

Arcade machines in Glendale
Disconnected arcade machines line one of three storage units rented by the City of Glendale on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. The city received the machines when they cleared a building on Brand Boulevard to make room for The Museum of Neon Art.
(Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer)

Turns out the state law that forced Glendale to hold onto dozens of vintage arcade machines doesn’t apply to the games at all, paving the way for an upcoming auction of the machines last valued at a total of roughly $100,000.

More than 50 games, which have been collecting dust in storage for roughly three years are to be appraised by a specialist and then sold at auction, according to a City Council decision made this week at a City Hall meeting.

The council had to decide what to do with the arcade machines, including two Ms. Pac-Mans and a Galaga game, after state Department of Finance officials said they didn’t care about them.

Originally, Glendale officials thought they did.


The games — and the arcade in downtown Glendale that they once filled — were bought for roughly $1 million by a special city-related fund formed by a state program known as redevelopment that redirected certain property taxes for economic development in blighted areas.

But in 2012, after a series of legal battles and political back-and-forth, Sacramento lawmakers scrapped redevelopment agencies throughout the state, including Glendale’s, and froze their assets, including the arcade machines.

The freeze was supposed to be temporary until state officials could decide what assets the agencies had to sell in order to relay the proceeds to other interest groups, such as school districts and counties.

At first, Glendale kept the equipment in the former arcade building. However, when renovations started on the structure because it’s going to be the site of the new Museum of Neon Art, the machines — ranging in fair market value from $1,000 to $9,000 — were put in storage.


Nearly two years after the end of redevelopment, Glendale officials finally received word from their counterparts in the capitol that the Department of Finance was only interested in the forced sale of real property, such as land and buildings.

Although the machines had been appraised several years ago when Glendale took over the arcade building — and the former business owner left them behind — council members called on a second opinion from an appraiser who specializes in arcade machines.

“Maybe there’s something old and funky and valuable,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman.

The machines include games such as Galaga, a space-shooter game; Ms. Pac-Man, a maze game; and Extreme Hunting 2, a shooting game. There is also a two-seat, sit-down racing game called Initial D Arcade Stage Version 3.

Once the appraisal is done, a variety of auction options may be considered, said City Manager Scott Ochoa, adding that officials can then tell interested buyers that “you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound, you’re taking the whole lot.”

So far, five people have expressed interest in the machines, with some wanting all of them.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.



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