News / Calgary

Calgary’s pinball community finds a new spot at the Trap & Gill

The Calgary bar will host donated machines from the local pinball community

Twyla and Shawn Benoit only started their home collection a year ago, swayed by the friendliness of the community.

Aaron Chatha/ Metro

Twyla and Shawn Benoit only started their home collection a year ago, swayed by the friendliness of the community.

Calgary’s pinball enthusiasts are flipping out – the community has found a new home at the city’s Atlantic Trap & Gill pub.

The bar will host a line up of new machines, donated by the city’s network of collectors, for tournaments and social events.

While it is 2016 and more people likely have a pinball app on their phone than go out to play on machines, Calgary has a strong collection of pinball machine enthusiasts.

It’s strong enough that it’s kept Jay Richardson, of Richardson Pinball, in business for more than 15 years.

“It’s never the same game,” Richardson said. “You can have an amazing high score on a machine and the next game you have basically nothing. The ball is wild.”

It’s not a cheap hobby to get into – machines can go anywhere from $2,000 to $14,000.

Specializing in restorations, Richardson said the worst machine he’s ever seen came in sprayed with WD40. The machines are meant to run dry, so, it created a black gunk all through the bottom of the machine.

“I think that was physically one of the worst things we’ve ever seen – we had to physically soak the parks to get the oil off in detergent,” he recalled. It cost $4,000 to restore that machine – but for hobbyists, it’s worth it.

“It’s really addicting,” said collector Shawn Hall. “It's kind of a bar sport, like darts or pool, but just like a movie, it’s a form of entertainment.”

Hall has only been collecting for about a year, but said the social nature of the scene drew him to it. Collectors often trade machines, and now that they have the Trap & Gill, they’ll be able be able to host events starting in October – for pinball players of any skill level.

“We just like sharing our passion with others and love to see new faces out,” he said.