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Why “Stadium Events” is Worth More Than Your Car

In the last couple weeks, an old Nintendo game called “Stadium Events” has popped up on eBay and is currently bidding at an unbelievable $100,000!  Now, all doubts that the bidding is legitimate aside, it’s not just the rarity that makes this game so valuable.  The story behind it is what it makes it truly one of the Holy Grails of game collecting.

Stadium Events was released in 1987 by Bandai, an infamous developer of many of the worst games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Seriously, these guys made some terrible games.  Chubby Cherub, Gilligan’s Island, Super Team Games…I mean these are awful, awful games.  It’s not just that they were poorly made (and boy were they), it’s that they were poorly designed.  The makers clearly had no idea what made a game fun and  I even reviewed some of them during my ongoing quest to beat every game made for the system.

Don’t play them.  Really.

So, Bandai was terrible.  But, aside from these titles, they also made a foray into fitness.  They did this by creating the Family Fun Fitness Mat.  This mat was plugged into the NES and some games were created that allowed you to “play” by running and stomping on the pad.  The pad was released with the game Athletic World and, looking at the back of the box, there was a promise that Stadium Events was “coming soon.”

The Family Fun Fitness Mat before it was consumed by Nintendo.

The Family Fun Fitness Mat as it appeared before it was consumed by Nintendo.  The family on the box seems to be having a really great time!

The mat intrigued Nintendo and they decided they wanted to buy the rights to it and re-brand it as their own.  Negotiations between them and Bandai took place but it wasn’t until the first days that Stadium Events became available to consumers that the deal was consummated and stores were notified of a recall.  Since only about 2,000 copies of the game were ever made (that’s it?) and only about 200 made it to stores, there are very few that ended up in consumers hands.  The rest were destroyed. It’s estimated only a dozen are known to exist in their complete form.

Think about that!

 

The Family Fun Fitness Mat on the left and the re-branded Power Pad on the right.  See the resemblance?  They're the same thing!

The Family Fun Fitness Mat on the left and the re-branded Power Pad on the right. See the resemblance? They’re the same thing!

Once the mat and games were recalled, Nintendo re-released the set as the Power Pad (did you own one?), with the re-branded Athletic World and the newly-renamed World Class Track Meet now under the Nintendo brand.  Both of these games today are very common and can be found in NES collections around the world. I have them, too. However, because the originally-named Stadium Events was available for so short a time and so few were purchased, its value has skyrocketed amongst collectors.

The sealed copy in the eBay auction is actually owned by a former Nintendo employee who received the game in an internal distribution program.  When he became aware of its insane value in 2011, he verified that he had it in storage but was not allowed to sell it because he was still employed at Nintendo.  Recently, he left, and can now sell the game.

It’s highly doubtful he’ll be able to reliably sell it via eBay, but the game is certainly worth tens of thousands.  It’s stories like these that make collecting so fun.  This man had no reason to buy this game.  It’s terrible and he knew it, but he collected the games his company sold and he never would’ve imagined what its worth would be a couple decades later.  Just imagine what that one (seemingly bad) decision resulted in.

It’s simply an incredible story.

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About John Blanco

John Blanco is an avid game collector and loves to write about his hobby as much as he participates in it. He run the Denver Retro Gamers Facebook group in Denver, Colorado, and coordinates swap-style meetups with dozens of other collectors every couple of months.

4 thoughts on “Why “Stadium Events” is Worth More Than Your Car

  1. John,

    The real question here is: If you ran into SE for cheap, would you keep it, or sell it to get “fun to play games” into your collection? I have mixed thoughts on this game and of course NWC. A part of me says if I found either on the cheap, I’d keep it. But the other part of me says, “why shelve a holy grail that I probably would not play when I can buy other games that I actually WOULD play?” I’m more leaned towards the latter. BTW, that auction ended at like, $35,000. Still, an impressive amount for a game that was stored for years! And it’s a trip to see horrible games sell for so much because of its rarity/low print (because it was horrible to begin with). Another great article.

    1. Hard to say. I’d love to be in that situation so I could know what I’d be thinking! My inclination is I’d at least initially keep it as a trophy. Eventually, I’d worry about house fires and theft and would likely sell it to reduce the risk. I know someone who has it and they’ve discussed security systems and individual locks in rooms of their house to protect it. Not sure I’d want to ever go there. So I guess I’d take a lot of pictures with it and make sure everyone I know knows I have it…then I’d sell it.

      The big questions is HOW do you sell it. eBay is a magnet for bogus bidding, and I would NEVER ship that thing.

      1. I like your idea of taking a picture with it. I’d share the picture and the story with others and consider that mission complete with that game. As far as selling it, I would definitely involve some third party like escrow.com to handle the money side of the transaction. I would never sell on eBay unless it was a local pick up only. Even so, the funds would definitely have to be verified somehow.

        It would be scary to have that in my home. I would probably have a fire proof safe installed somewhere in the basement. Even then, I would be paranoid.

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