By Jaime Fuller
It’s been nearly a year since we did a story about the Dam Sports Bar and Arcade, the mythic intersection of pinball, classic arcade games, beer, and cornhole which is now planning to open this August. Back then it was just a gleam in owner Ben Metzger’s eye, but now he’s making a final push to turn it into a reality.
Metzger has been doing the designing, construction, and artwork in the historic Sivetz Coffee building on 4th Street in downtown Corvallis for over a year. Due to its location next to Highway 99W and needing historic approval to get the final permit, major construction has been delayed. As with most renovation projects, construction costs have grown immensely, exceeding Metzger’s expectations.
A couple of the extra costs involved getting ODOT permits and fire sprinklers, all of which are good things, but of course weren’t planned for in the arcade budget. So Metzger is taking a modern approach to opening his retro dream bar: he’s turning to crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding has become the method of the moment, possibly the method of the future, for funding a startup. Metzger is using Indiegogo, which he says has a more relaxed feel than some of the others, so it was simple to get started. His hope is that people who strongly support having a gaming venue in Corvallis will be excited to have a hand in making it a reality.
The best way to spread a crowdfunding message is to create a YouTube video, which he has done. When people can see what he’s doing, hopefully they will want to participate. The other main methods of finding backers are using social media and word of mouth. Metzger hopes to raise $10,000 to supplement his arcade budget.
“With crowdfunding, it’s fun,” Metzger explains. “The cool thing about crowdfunding is you’re not just asking for donations. With each donation there is a reward. A $20 donation gets you a T-shirt.” The reward system makes it more interactive; supporters can win prizes depending on the size of their donation. Rewards include T-shirts, membership in the secret points club, membership in the Cornhole Club, the waiving of tournament fees, a homemade barrel arcade machine, and more.
Metzger wants to encourage customers to be competitive and achieve what he calls “legend status.” It’s basically an exclusive mug club—you get your very own shelf behind the bar.
He plans to make the space a memorable, comfortable atmosphere that will become a landmark of Corvallis.
“This is the perfect venue,” he says.
He could have chosen a smaller location close to campus that was ready to go, but it wouldn’t have had the same feel. When you see the inside, smell the paint, and sit next to one of his homemade barrel arcade machines, it’s clear that he is doing a very thorough job. Every detail is purposefully designed. Once it’s finished, the sports arcade will be a work of art. Its grand size and majestic layout provide an ideal location for holding concerts, performances, and events.
Since a wide array of people enjoy gaming and sports, Metzger’s campaign appeals to a broad audience. Anyone who has a love of classic video games, arcade games from childhood, cornhole (the beanbag-tossing game, relax…), or sports in general will find amusement at the Dam.
It’s a hands-on, interactive place. That’s something we could use in Corvallis, especially during the long winter months.
The most effective crowdfunding is done in a relatively short window, and the best length of time has proven to be 30 days. “It lends a sense of urgency without creating panic,” Metzger says. Assuming all goes well, the Dam is set to open by the end of August this year.
The major construction can begin now that the final permit has been approved. With a little support from the “crowd,” we’ll soon have a magnificent funhouse to bring back the delightful games of our youth.
The Dam’s crowdfunding campaign went live on June 6 and will continue through July 5. If you’re interested in participating, winning prizes, or supporting an arcade venue in Corvallis, go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-dam-sports-arcade to make a donation.