STOMPING GROUNDS: D&D welcomes pinball wizards

Stories and Photos By RENE ESCOBAR

The pings and dings of the dazzling lights are still reminiscent of childhood.

Down Seventh Street off Fourth Avenue, lies a collection of pinball machines.

Owners Robert Nobel and Connie Negley have been running D&D Pinball for the past four years.

Passed on from two friends, Nobel and Negley have added to a collection that features rarities, matchines as old as 46 years old and some of the most recognizable names in pop culture.

After walking into D&D, you get thrown into a maze of glowing lights, familiar cartoons and are blitzed with an atmosphere of fun, and happiness reminiscent of our youth.

Nobel, the technician of D&D, has bought or restored all 33 pinball machines in the arcade.

“All the machines here are a part of my own personal collection,” Nobel said. “You see the machine Medieval Madness, I see an old pinhead, the crown jewel of pinball.”

Nobel’s job is equal parts rewarding and full of passion.

“The thrill of the job is seeing all the little kids’ eyes light up with the ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Ahhhs’ of pinball.

“Even the adult’s inner child comes out when they see their favorite characters, like Batman, the Simpsons, Star Wars.”

With a wide variety of pinball machines, D&D provides a diverse atmosphere.

Negley is a real estate agent by day and pinball enthusiast by night.

“On any given weekend we’ll see a wide range of people, from college students to grandparents and their families,” she said.

Nobel stated that three quarters of his collection originate from the 1990s. He says the ’90s was “the golden age for pinball, as the technology made the technological transition that made the games so much simpler.”

Nobel’s love for his machines is a passionate one.

“About 93 percent of the machines here I’ve salvaged,” he said. “I love taking beaten old piles of garbage and turning them into playable beauties.”

Negley, oddly enough, never played pinball before she became co-owner of D&D.

“Coming from the Midwest, arcades were scarce,” she said.

Now, as owner, she participates in their monthly tournaments. D&D holds tournaments every last Thursday of every month.

“Anyone can participate,” Negley said. “We have once-in-a-while casual players compete with the professional players.”

The Tucson Pinball League uses D&D as the venue every first and third Sunday of the month. They host Sunday Rumble, an event where pinballers can rise through the ranks.According to TPL, a $10 entry is required to participate in the Sunday Rumble.

With its quaint charm, D&D is truly a diamond in the rough. The glimmer of the machines lights a beacon for the wanderers of the Fourth Avenue.

“It’s really fun to see the shock on people’s faces when they see an arcade out of nowhere,” Negley said.

Co-owner Connie Negley shines the pinball machines to look presentable to the public coming in to play.


D&D Pinball has a plethora of pinball machines that pay homage to many pop culture hits – from “The Addams Family” to “Star Wars” – from the 1990s and earlier.

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