Saturday, October 29, 2016

Phoenix Trotting Park



The Phoenix Trotting Park was constructed in the 1960’s by the Dunnigan family.  James J. Dunnigan moved to Arizona from New York and acquired 640 acres of land near Perryville for his “harness racing track”, the Phoenix Trotting Park.  In the 1960’s, there was no highway or paved roads leading to the outskirts of Phoenix, so getting to the race track was difficult.  This did not deter Dunnigan, he collected money from his trotting friends to build an enormous grandstand.  This seating area would hold an audience of 5,400 people.  They began erecting this vast edifice in 1964 at a final cost of over $9.5 million.

The doors for the park opened on January 12, 1965 and over 12,000 people were present at the event.  Things started out well for the park, but soon afterwards things began to go downhill.  It stayed open until December 7, 1966 when it closed its doors for good.  What went wrong?  There were a few factors that caused the demise of the park.  They say that the dwindling turnout, faraway locale, cost ravages, and rivalry race tracks made it difficult for the park to succeed.  After the closure, they transformed the name to Arizona Equestrian Center.

In 1998, during the filming of “No code of Conduct”, they used the structure for several different frames.  At the end, they set off a massive explosion scene where numerous pigeons were eradicated or maimed during the detonation.  Many were outraged over this.

What will become of this iconic structure which sits abandoned near Interstate 10 in Goodyear?  There are talks of it being sold and torn down.  The park, which sits on 194 acres, may have been sold and awaiting escrow.  Many of the nearby residents would like to see the structure stay where it is and not be demoed.  It is an iconic edifice that many enjoying seeing while cruising along Interstate 10.











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