Does pinball really need to grow?
In 2000, Stern was looking in the rear view mirror and wondering if they would go under just like Bally/Williams one year prior. Tournaments back then were 4-8 local people who were considered weirdos. Outside of Chicago EXPO, pinball was small, very small.
Fast forward to today. Pinball and pinball people are everywhere. Custom machines, barcades, boutique pinball game companies, Pinmame emulation and cabinets, huge multi day tournaments with 100's of people, pinball shows in just about every city with a population of 1mil or larger, multiple leagues in nearly every city, it just goes on and on. NONE of that stuff existed at this scale from 2000-2008. The pinball club/culture has expanded for sure.
Historically, the pinball industry is part of Americana. I doubt it will ever completely vanish. How many jukebox collectors do you know? Conversely, how many comic book/ comic toy/ Star Wars enthusiast do you know? Comicon events are huge right now and the market for those related movies and merchandise if off the charts, compared to pinball. In some ways, pinball is a a small section of THAT culture. Just look at recent pinball themes/liscenses.
I have always been content with where pinball has always been. If it grows, that's ok. If it all but vanishes, that's ok too. We can't just be content because we have been raised in a country where you can't help being spoiled by it's current consumer culture.
Your smart phone is old and you will always want a better one. Your sports car is not a Tesla and you will always desire a better one. Your house is not up to the current cultural norm and you will always want a larger one.
Pinball can be an expensive hobby but it doesn't have to be. You can always track down a beater that is a good game for under $1,000 if you make some connections and network a bit...
Pinball is ok right where it is currently and IMHO, society does not need for it to exist in any other way.