History of Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Nov 30, 2016

New Orleans has the Superdome, Boston has Fenway Park, and Los Angeles has the Rose Bowl. Each of these stadiums is an icon within its respective city. In Phoenix, no stadium is more famous than the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, or simply "The Coliseum."

Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 2009
Photo by: Michael Lundgren
A Phoenix Icon
The Coliseum is an important building in Phoenix's history for its historical significance and its unique architecture. The Arizona State Fair Commission recognized the need for an indoor, multi-purpose building as early as 1962. The intent was to use the enclosed stadium during the State Fair and for concerts and other events throughout the year.

Design and Construction
In 1964, the Commission approved a design from Phoenix architects Lescher and Mahoney. They were the most prominent firm in Arizona and built nearly every significant building in Phoenix today, during their heydey of 1910 to 1975.

Lescher and Mahoney's design for the Coliseum featured a very unique shaped roof. The actual geometric shape is a hyperbolic paraboloid, but to the layperson, it resembles a horse saddle or a Pringles potato chip. The roof is made up of more than 1,000 pre-cast concrete panels, which are supported by high tension steel cables. Each panel weighs over 3,000 pounds!

Remembering the El Cid Castle in Sunnyslope

Oct 25, 2015

El Cid Castle before its demolition.
Photo by: Tony the Marine
There is something about castles that captures the imagination. Castles are symbols of strength, able to withstand attacks from intruders and protect the occupants from harm.

Most of the world's historic castles were built in Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries, which means that Americans are not accustomed to seeing them in person.

Perhaps because of their rarity or perhaps because of their association with fairy tales and fantasy, many Americans are fascinated by castles. This led to a number of European-inspired castles being built in America in the 1800s and 1900s. One of the most well-known castles in Phoenix was the El Cid Castle in Sunnyslope.

Food Truck Fridays in Gilbert

Oct 5, 2015

There's a new event going on in Historic Downtown Gilbert called Food Truck Fridays. Basically, a bunch of vendors get together every Friday night to offer up a selection of interesting culinary creations, prepared and served from their mobile kitchens. Recently, a friend invited me to go check out Food Truck Fridays.

I should clarify that I went into this event wondering why anyone would care about a bunch of food trucks. As far as I knew, food trucks were kind of a trashy thing; stalwarts of county festivals and fairs that served overpriced and low quality food with questionable standards of cleanliness.

Arriving at Food Truck Fridays, I found no such thing. Apparently I missed the memo that food trucks are hip and cool now, and people actually like them!

Metro Light Rail Expansion Continues

Aug 3, 2015

There is an old expression "burning the candle at both ends" which refers to someone working quickly to finish a project. In the case of the Valley Metro Light Rail, they are *building* at both ends!

Construction is underway to extend the Light Rail system in both Mesa and Phoenix. The Mesa segment is expected to open four new stations in August 2015 with two additional stations planned.

In Phoenix, the expansion is divided into two phases, which are scheduled to be completed in 2016 and 2026, respectively.

Spring Training Baseball Explodes in Popularity

Jul 20, 2015

Baseball is a national pasttime that Americans have enjoyed for generations. But in Phoenix, it's more than just a cherished sport - it's big business. That's because Phoenix is the home of the Cactus League, one of two off-season leagues for major league teams.

The mild winters temperatures and lack of snow made Phoenix an ideal location for spring training teams, particularly from colder Midwestern cities like Chicago and Milwaukee.

The first team to ever conduct spring training in Phoenix was the Detroit Tigers in 1929. The Chicago Cubs trained in Mesa from 1979 to 1996, and the Seattle Mariners trained in Tempe from 1977 through 1993. For a long time, Spring Training was a cottage industry that only attracted the most die-hard baseball fans.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened or why it happened, but sometime in the last 20 years, the Spring Training industry exploded into a massive multi-million dollar industrial complex.


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