With views of the legendary Superstition Mountains to the east, and Four Peaks and the Goldfield Mountains to the north, the Apache Junction Rodeo Event Center is in a prime location for equestrians, outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Home to signature events such as the annual Lost Dutchman Days rodeo and carnival, Early Day Engine Tractor Show, Ben Johnson Days and more, the center is a gem in the desert.
After leasing the land since 1986, the city has purchased the property from the federal government and celebrated the transfer of ownership on Friday, Oct. 6.
“We are so thrilled to take the next step in our city that has embraced the equestrian community and has long roots with the Lost Dutchman Days rodeo,” said Apache Junction Mayor Chip Wilson. “Our purchase of the rodeo grounds opens the door to more events and more visitors to our city.”
The city of Apache Junction acquired use of the property from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 1986, through the Recreation and Public Purpose Act. The 20-acre site features a fully equipped rodeo arena, covered bleachers, restroom/concession facilities and associated parking.
The city now will begin the public input process on the types of events, programs and amenities residents would like to see developed at the Rodeo Event Center. Consultants to the city will be doing a master plan update to incorporate their thoughts, as well as get feedback from other key stakeholders, such as the various equestrian groups throughout the community and current non-profit event planners. A prioritized list of needs will be generated and projects will start going through the design process, with first phase projects slated for construction in 2025 as funds become available.
The city moved to purchase the rodeo grounds as it gained popularity but were constrained by federal rules. Among the stipulations of the federal recreation act was that the property could not be used for commercial gain or for-profit endeavors. That prohibited promoters and other concessionaires from coming in and hosting different activities. For the Rodeo Event Center, this limited the types of events and rodeos that the city could allow.
The city first started exploring acquisition of the property in 2016, with the hopes of opening up the venue to more concerts, rodeos and other events. And in 2020, the city council entered into an agreement with the BLM to begin the appraisal and potential purchase process. After completing a very extensive federal public process, the city received their final ownership documents this July. On Friday, Oct. 6, the city celebrated as federal representatives passed the “keys to the Rodeo Event Center” to Mayor Wilson.
The center is already rentable for events, as well as individual or group use of the lighted arena. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. A complete list of fees and facility use guidelines can be found at www.apachejunctionaz.gov/facilityrentals.
Archery lessons/tournaments, all-terrain vehicle safety courses, 4H activities, and a variety of equestrian events and activities are currently happening at the center. The city is currently working with several groups to bring concerts and rodeo events to the arena with more opportunities expected.