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Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 11/15/2011

ESPN Zone auction: Scoring a piece of the ‘ultimate man cave’


Dozens of arcade games from Washington’s ESPN Zone are being auctioned off. Bidders can see them in person on Tuesday until 4 p.m. (Maggie Fazeli Fard/The Washington Post)
For Washington area fans of sports, arcade games and nacho cheese, this is truly the end of an era.

A year and a half after closing shop, the “ultimate man cave” that was downtown D.C.’s ESPN Zone reopened its doors one final time Tuesday morning as it prepared to auction off everything from the track lighting to the famed Kegerator.

“This is the kick-the-tires day,” says Scott Wright, the VP of site sales for Rasmus.com, a local auction Web site, and the man overseeing Tuesday’s preview. “It’s a chance for people to see the goods in person.”

Before it closed in June 2010, ESPN Zone drew crowds of locals and tourists alike with the promise of chicken wings, beer and foosball.

Now, the large fire-backed sign that once welcomed visitors at the entrance on the corner of 12th and E streets NW is long gone.

Inside, the air is stale and the burgundy carpet clearly worn. Big screen televisions sit on the floor, leaning against faded walls.

In the dim lighting, ESPN Zone, once a bastion of manliness, is a relic.


The ESPN Zone auction preview in downtown Washington. (Maggie Fazeli Fard/The Washington Post)
Perusing the contents of the building — the auction lists nearly 800 items — is increasingly eery as one descends the three floors. Empty tables, empty bars, empty cages.

The lowest level houses what Wright calls “the stars of the show”: the arcade games.

They are fully lit, buzzing and clinking, the flashing lights and sound effects beckoning players that aren’t there. At least not yet.

Although the space is mostly empty when the preview begins at 10 a.m., Wright expects anywhere from 100 to 200 people to come through ESPN Zone Tuesday to check out the merchandise.

But the real success of the auction has been online, says Wright. Since the bidding opened three weeks ago, Rasmus.com has had 30,000 hits — twice the site’s average in that time period.

What can prospective bidders, who Wright says range from the private individual to business owners, expect to get?

Among the items for sale are: four air hockey tables, an electronic scoreboard, the Slap Shot Cage, the Power Pitcher Cage, the Keg Shelf and 72 arcade games.

“We start the bidding at zero,” says Wright. “Whether something goes for pennies or $100,000, everything will be sold.”

“It’s always sad to see an icon, if this can be called an icon, close,” says Wright, who admits he had never visited an the ESPN Zone restaurant prior to this assignment.

“But we’re recyclers, taking from one business that closed and selling to another business that’s opening. It’s a good thing from that perspective.”

Washington’s ESPN Zone may be no more. But if you’re looking to “recycle” that nacho cheese dispenser — now going for $45 — it’s your lucky day.

The preview is open to the public at 555 12th Street NW until 4 p.m. Tuesday. Online bidding will close at 11:07 a.m. Wednesday.

By  |  12:04 PM ET, 11/15/2011

 
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