Would like to reach beyond current restaurant and off-track betting
Apache Junction Focal Point & Tourism Group (FP&T) met last Tuesday, February 12, at the Apache Greyhound Park to hear a presentation by Delaware North staff about the possibility of turning the park into a concert/activity venue.
Aaron Feinberg and Kimberly Buck from Delaware North, a family-owned hospitality business based in Buffalo, NY, and Rody Espanol with the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, presented some ideas to enhance the presence of Apache Greyhound Park.
Unless you count which weeds grew the fastest, the park ceased live racing in 2004, and the park’s signature running dog neon feature seems to be missing a leg.
Music festivals, BMX racing, inflatable water parks, paintball activities, “tough mudders,” car shows and a seasonal Santa’s village were all suggested as way to repurpose the dormant track.
In attendance for the presentation were FP&T members Mayor Jeff Serdy and Councilwoman Christa Rizzi, as well as Pinal County Supervisor Todd House and city staff from economic development and planning departments. Mayor Serdy expressed his desire to have many events during the city’s high season (November through April), and Aaron Feinberg said the Delaware North company was interested in leaving a legacy in Apache Junction.
Absent from the meeting was a basic plan that extended past cleaning up the track. Mr. Feinberg stressed that, among the facility’s 20 employees, only two are full-time and, because of budget constraints, they were tasked with doing repairs themselves. The meeting took place in a room that the organization wishes to use for a March 1st concert, but was still in need of drywall repairs, carpet replacement and painting. Mr. Serdy and Ms. Rizzi offered to organize volunteers.
As is often mentioned in various Apache Junction surveys, both formal and informal, the city lacks regular entertainment for its younger demographic. Although many events are sponsored by Parks and Recreation, the public library, local schools and various sports leagues, residents are always looking for another gem to add to AJ’s crown. Annual events, like the Lost Dutchman Marathon, 4th of July Celebration and Lost Dutchman Days, reach beyond Apache Junction’s borders, and Delaware North would like Apache Greyhound Park to be a new destination.
E’lan Vallender, with the city’s Economic Development department, thinks the vision is great. “What will it take to get it from here to there?” he asked. He wanted to know if Delaware North was on board with investing in these high-revenue/high-cost events. He recommended prototyping one to get an understanding of all that is involved. He said that there is always risk in ventures like this, and the question is, “Who is willing to take it?”
Apache Junction Police Department Captain Arnold Freeman also attended the meeting and was asked for his thoughts. He said that any event with a lot of noise is going to affect the quality of life in the neighborhood. In addition to noise complaints, he predicted traffic challenges and State Alcohol Board scrutiny.
Apache Junction residents can expect further news as pencils are sharpened and numbers are crunched. Once promoters are aware of the desire and potential, it may not take long for Junctionpalooza to bloom.
Photo above: Aaron Feinberg of Delaware North addresses the February 12, 2019 Apache Junction Focal Point & Tourism Group meeting.