Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about the Phoenix Trotting Park by reading the answers to these frequently asked questions.

What is the Phoenix Trotting Park?
The Trotting Park was a harness (horse) racing facility built on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona in the mid-1960s. It featured two race tracks and a large grandstand building, which still stands today.

What is harness racing?
Harness racing is a type of horse race where the driver (not a jockey) sits behind the horse on a lightweight, two-wheeled cart called a sulky, rather than directly on the horse's back as in traditional flat racing. The horses race around a dirt oval track at a specific speed (either a trot or a pace).

Where is Phoenix Trotting Park located?
The facility is located in Goodyear, Arizona - approximately 23 miles west of downtown Phoenix. The cross streets are Interstate 10 at Cotton Lane. The Phoenix Trotting Park address is listed as:

1068 N Cotton Ln
Goodyear AZ 85338
United States

When was Phoenix Trotting Park built? When did it open?
The Trotting Park was built in 1964 and opened on January 11, 1965.[1]

When did it close?
According to an article in Harness Horse magazine, the Trotting Park closed indefinitely on December 7, 1966.[2]

Who built the park?
The owner was James J. Dunnigan of Buffalo, New York. He also owned the Buffalo Raceway, another harness-racing facility that is still in operation today.[3]

Who designed Phoenix Trotting Park?
The architectural firm that designed Phoenix Trotting Park was Victor Gruen Associates of Los Angeles, CA.[5]

How much did it cost to build?
Construction costs soared past $9,500,000 in 1964.[4] Adjusted for inflation, this would be approximately $67.6 million in 2013 dollars.

Why did it close?
There were a number of reasons why the Trotting Park did not do well. For a detailed explanation, please refer to the History page.

What are some facts about the park?
640 acres
Seating capacity: 5,400 people
Tracks: 5/8 mile oval and 1 mile oval
Stable capacity: 1,000 horses
Dormitory Capacity: 120 people
Opening day attendance: 12,223 people [1]

Who owns Phoenix Trotting Park?
According to public records at the Maricopa County Assessor's Office, the Trotting Park is owned by Roles Inn of America. They currently operate the Cotton Lane RV Resort on the southern edge of the property.

Can I visit the Trotting Park?
NO. The Trotting Park is on private land and visitors are not allowed.

Why is the Trotting Park significant?
The Trotting Park is notable for several reasons. First, the building used the latest construction techniques of the day and was one of the largest structures at that time built out of precast concrete. Its unique mid-century architectural style is aesthetically pleasing and connects us to the past. Second, harness racing tracks were much less common than the Flat Racing tracks which exist today, and Phoenix Trotting Park is one of the only (and also best preserved) Harness Racing tracks in Arizona. Third, the Trotting Park was a hugely ambitious privately-funded economic project that cost millions of dollars to build. The building is also notable for the fact that it has survived in a state of disrepair for more than 40 years. This is virtually unheard of in Phoenix, where the landscape is dominated by subdivisions of tract housing and master planned communities.

Could it be reopened?
It is unlikely that the Trotting Park will ever be re-opened as a commercial horse racing facility, though it could be adapted for a different purpose. It would take a significant investment to refurbish the grandstand to a usable state, not to mention bringing it up to modern standards for fire safety, disability access, and the various requirements needed for the city to issue a Certificate of Occupancy.

I heard that a movie was filmed there.
Yes, that is true. The movie was the 1998 film "No Code of Conduct" starring Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen.

Is the Phoenix Trotting Park haunted?
There are no confirmed reports of any paranormal activity here amounting to anything greater than the creepiness of a large, abandoned structure that creaks and groans in the wind. If you seek the lore of haunted buildings, I suggest you pay a visit to Jerome, Arizona.

What is the future of the Trotting Park?
Currently, it is on privately owned land. Although it has been closed for 50 years, I have not heard any stories in the news about the structure being threatened with demolition. UPDATE: As of January 2016, the facility is listed for sale by Colliers International for $16.5 million dollars. A buyer has not yet been announced.

My best non-professional guess is that demolishing the reinforced-concrete structure would be very expensive, given the size of the place. There would also have to be environmental safeguards in place as the Trotting Park was constructed before the US EPA ban on spray asbestos in 1973 and the ban on lead-based paint in 1978. It is also full of dried pigeon droppings, which could potentially contain airborne diseases that are harmful to humans.

 

References

1 Kiko, Sally. Phoenix Trotting Park History. (Dec 2010). Three Rivers Historical Society, Vol. 7, Issue 4.

2 Phoenix Trotting Park Suspends Racing Indefinitely. (14 Dec 1966). Harness Horse Magazine.

3 Buffalo Raceway History. (25 Jan 1999). Buffalo Raceway Website.

4 Werner, M.R. Racing Beneath The Peaks. (8 Mar 1965). Sports Illustrated Magazine.

5 A Guide to the Architecture of Metro Phoenix. AIA Press. (1983).


Comments