Home Editor's Picks Tilting Upward: CP Pinball Launches New “Atomic Pinball Arcade”

Tilting Upward: CP Pinball Launches New “Atomic Pinball Arcade”

Silver Ball Fans Flock Saturday's Grand Opening In Wood River

by Brian Ledford

(WOOD RIVER, IL) Since 2007, local pinball enthusiasts have considered CP Pinball a “must visit” at the Madison County-based business’ initial home in South Roxana.

This past weekend, flipper fanatics converged at the company’s newest Taj Mahal.

Atomic Pinball Arcade opened Saturday at its expansive 8,000 square-foot building located in Wood River. (102 Whitelaw Rd.) The facility houses over 100 pinball tables and dozens of video and table games, all set to unlimited “free play.”

“Our old location could only house 75 machines and we needed more room,” said CP Pinball’s Chuck Sanderson at the event. “Everything is new in this building except for the walls and floors.”

Two years ago, Sanderson acquired the dilapidated Wood River Knights of Columbus Hall and invested time and money into renovating the space with the help of business associates and volunteers.

“New ceilings, new electric and new water,” said Sanderson of the $600,000 overall refurbishment. “We wanted to really get it going.”

And when one walks in, the sweat equity looks like it has paid off. Housed are the majority of CP Pinball’s inventory, which includes current high-profile machines as well as a few classics that date back to the 1970’s.

The patrons that visited Saturday certainly checked off all boxes, from multi-child families to individual hard-core devotees.

In today’s digital world of video gaming, Sanderson notes that pinball still contains romantic feelings for those that participate in the hobby, regardless of age.

“They are more of a story than just gravity and flippers and a ball,” he said of today’s electronic crop. “The playing field is still the same with pop-ups and switches but there’s so much more interactivity. It leaves a lot more for the player to desire and beat the game.”

Sanderson’s passion for pinball was launched when he was five years old. That ensuing love blossomed when he began collecting used pinball machines in the mid-2000’s. Some were fully operational while others needed tender-loving care, if not complete restoration.

When his stock outgrew personal space, he opened CP Pinball Parties in June 2007 at the site of the former South Roxana Post Office, not only to free room for himself but to also provide a haven for those that craved the resurgence of the amusement.

With popularity over time, the then-solo brick building added a pair of self-built structures, and the overall location became a haven for pinball diehards…or at least provide moments for newcomers to feel like a kid again.

Growth inevitably resulted in CP Pinball’s new home that is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays to the public as well as to off-days for competitive intraleague play.

Atomic Pinball Arcade has a similar pricing structure compared to the old South Roxana facility. With all games set to “free play,” customers pay either an hourly rate, a multi-hour pass rate or full-day/night pass rate.

Wednesdays (5 pm–10 pm): $10/hour. $20 full night pass.

Fridays (5 pm–11 pm): $10/hour. $20 full night pass.

Saturdays (Noon-11 pm): $10/hour. $20 four-hour pass. $30 all day pass.

For now, the old South Roxana site will still exist as a place for machine fix-up and future Atomic additions.

“It’s a repair facility but we’re now able to buy pinball machines again,” said Sanderson. “We’ll keep it in place and if I get more games, that’s fine.”

Keeping with CP Pinball’s legacy, a “BYOB” policy is in place at Atomic (no large coolers, please!). Vending machines also provide refreshments and those with daily passes can exit/re-enter via wristbands. Free parking is on-site and there are a lot of eateries nearby for a brief break.

Consider it evolution for a business that involves the sport’s ongoing revolution.

“I love it,” said Sanderson. “Pinball is a really tight community.”

For more information, go to their official website.

By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.

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