Preparing for a USAmusements arcade game auction in Indianapolis

As the next arcade game auction here in Indianapolis approaches this Saturday, I have had a couple of questions come through about what to expect at the fairgrounds if you have never been before. Well, here are couple of things that may seem like common knowledge to most and may be talked about somewhere if you are willing to hunt for the information, but what fun is that? Let’s just talk about USAmusements right here.

US Amusements Logo

Indianapolis Arcade Game Auctions are marathons πŸ˜‰

That’s right. I know from personal experience. When I went to the auction in October of 2006, I was at the Fairgrounds nearly 7 hours waiting for the auctioneer to get around to the R-Type that I promptly bought for $33. Sometimes those great deals are worth waiting for, sometimes they’re not.

Here are a short list of questions about arcade auctions that in general apply to all of them all over the US, but we’ll answer them specifically to the USAmusements auctions. If you have a question you’d like to ask and have added to this FAQ list drop me a line.

Where do the arcade game auctions take place?

The auctions happen in the Fairgrounds about every 3-6 months. There is usually a date in January, April and October of each year. You are looking for the ‘Our Land Pavilion’, which is on the west side of the sprawling entertainment center located on 38th street. Here are some photos showing you what you will see when you approach the Indianapolis Fairgrounds;

The sign to the Fairgrounds, no mention of the USAmusements auction on this particular weekend;

Indianapolis Fairgrounds Sign

A photo showing all of the buildings on the west side of the Fairgrounds. You need to walk straight, or if you are in a car, drive until about the 4th inlet or so and take a right.

Indianapolis Fairgrounds Entrance

A photo of Our Land Pavilion. No cover charge, the garage door will be open and you will see a lot of bigger vehicles with trailers to help you know that you are in the right spot.

Indianapolis Fairgrounds - Our Land Pavilion

Still unsure of how the auction works once you’re in the building? Check out this short ‘USAmusements Auction Video‘ from the last auction to see a glimpse into how the coin-operated items are sold.

How long does the arcade auction usually last?

The auctions at the Indianapolis fairgrounds will usually start at 10:00 am and last until at least after 4 pm. I admit I have never been there until the end, so they may as well go a total of 8 hours right until 6 pm, but I imagine not much longer.

This will always depend on the amount of games needing to be auctioned.

I want an empty arcade cabinet. Are there usually just cabinets for sale?

I haven’t seen an empty cabinet at the auctions in just about 2 years. I do miss auctions, but not usually. The only empty cabinets I have seen lately are usually gambling type cabinets that aren’t really setup to be an easy / standard upright arcade cabinet good for MAME.

But each auction is different, you never know. You just have to go, but you’ll know by 11:00 am whether there are empty cabinets or not.

Oh, and usually, there is what is called a ‘dead row’ if there are empty cabs. And from my experience, they put all of the empty cabinets together and auction them off towards the end.

Does USAmusements take cash, credit card, etc.?

They take your money. They love to take your money. And they’ll take it in any form. Cash is the best form so do make sure to bring along about $400-600 in the car. That way you won’t carry it around with you, but can run out really quick to get it in case you find that surprise game that makes an appearance that you never planned on buying – or so you tell your wife πŸ˜‰

What games will be at an auction?

I wish I was psychic, but I am not. You can go Friday night to the fairgrounds to see people start to drop off the games to get an idea. But there is no preview, no indication of what games will be there before then. It is luck of the draw, and what individuals decide they want to sell.

Tell me a little bit about how the auctions works

Without getting into too much detail, this is how the auction works.

  • First – They auction off the stuff up by the auction stand. This is usually parts, monitors, boards, you name it. Smaller non full size arcade related items that are usually in cardboard boxes that you have to sift through. I have known of a few steals in those boxes, you just never know. However, most of it really is junk.
  • Second – If memory serves me, the auctioneer will then move to the coin op equipment in the immediate area. This means the jukeboxes which are located to the back right corner, and the cocktail cabinets if there are any.
  • Third – The auction will move to the rows of games. Usually there are 4-5 rows. The nearest to the left wall will have all the true classic games, your Pac-mans, your Ms. Pac-mans, and your Froggers. From there, I am sure there is some sort of delineation, but I am not up to speed on the more recent games. Generally, the other 3-4 rows are a mix of late 80’s to mid 90’s games. Some work, some don’t.
  • Fourth – Usually as the auction moves towards the outer door where you enter, they will make a little detour to auction off any redemption machines, you know, the machines that spit out tickets – pool tables, that sort of stuff. I have only see one or two Skee Ball machines show up in the two years I have attended, but they are usually located here too.
  • Fifth – The Outer row to the far left is the pinballs. Usually there are about 15-30 pinballs, in a myriad of different conditions. I would say this is the most difficult row to actually play. Some work, some are ‘sticky’, and some flat out are broken. Some of them the owners lock up so you would have to actually put in money to play them. Suck!
  • Final – Down at the end of the row are the large oversize sit down and highly interactive games with the large footprints. I assume these are the last items to be auctioned.
What else do I need to know?

The auctions are free to everyone. As of right now, there is no cover charge to enter the auction itself once you are in the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds charge you a couple bucks to park, but beyond that this is a free day to bring your kids and play arcade games.

There is parking about 5-6 blocks down on 38th street down the residential streets. It is not a great area, but if you don’t like paying to park you can take that chance. It’s only a couple of bucks, but I don’t pay to park and I have never had any problems.

Bring an extension cord, and hopefully something to easily retract / unroll it and transport it. There are a number of nice little items to do so. There will be a lot of cords plugged in, but it isn’t good manners to just steal a cord to play an arcade game. The plugs are limited though, so you might just have to borrow a cord.

On the note about kids. The people who show up here smoke, are really rough, and and scary. There are some nice residential buyers with a lot of money to spend, but there are a lot of individuals who would make me nervous. Know this when bringing your kids. I am sure there haven’t been any serious issues in the past otherwise USAmusements would probably have some problems. Just be aware and skeptical.

Auction starts at 10:00 am. You can show up I think starting at 9 am and start playing. This is what I would recommend. It allows you to scope what is there and start to realize what you are interested in. You get your bidding number by providing some contact information and then you go around and assess the machines.

If you get there early enough and nothing interests you, you can usually leave by 11:00 am.

In my opinion, these auctions are a buyer’s market, not a seller’s market. Games typically go below market value, unless they are classics. But add in the fees and other costs and if you are selling your arcade game you might be unhappy with the final price. But if you are looking to buy, you can get games cheap for under $150 that look pretty decent and may be worth more than that in parts alone.

Wrapping up the thoughts on arcade auctions

Do some searching. People in Indianapolis are lucky that they have both Madocowain and Rotheblog.com, between the two of us we have covered auctioned games and pricing for those games over the last 6 years plus. You can do some research into what game prices are and what their values / worth actually are. Visit my auctions section for Indianapolis USAmusements results which include photo galleries with the final prices if I have them.

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment or shoot me a message and I will do my best to answer it here. Thanks for reading.

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As the next arcade game auction here in Indianapolis approaches this Saturday, I have had a couple of questions come through about what to expect at the fairgrounds if you have never been before. Well, here are couple of things that may seem like common knowledge to most and may be talked about somewhere if you are willing to hunt for the information, but what fun is that? Let’s just talk about USAmusements right here.

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Is there a website that shows the exact date of upcoming game auctions? I checked the Indiana State Fairgrounds list of events and this auction was not even listed………….for any of the months that have been mentioned above????

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