Millions of Arizonans have visited the Arizona State Exposition and Fairgrounds since its birth over a hundred years ago. Thousands of stars have performed in the Coliseum, including The Rolling Stones, Rihanna, Toby Keith, Bob Dylan, and even the “King of Rock and Roll”.... Elvis Presley. The Madhouse on McDowell was home to the Phoenix Suns for 23 seasons. This is the tradition that the Arizona Exposition and State Fair prides itself on the most.
Here are some fun historical facts about the Arizona Exposition and State Fair grounds:
• 1884 - The very first Arizona Territorial Fair
• 1905 - The current site of the Arizona Exposition and State Fair was
• 1909 - The Fair Commission purchased the grounds for $30,000 after having
rented it from the Fair Association for $10 a year.
• 1912 - Arizona is granted statehood and the State Fair Commission
continued the work of the Territorial Fair Commission.
• 1918 - The Gem and Mineral building is constructed on the grounds and is
currently the oldest building on the grounds.
• 1936 - The new Grandstand arena, funded by the WPA, is completed after
the original wooden grandstand was destroyed in a fire
• 1955 - Scenes from the film Bus Stop starring Marilyn Monroe were shot in
the Grandstand Arena
• 1957 - Jimmy Bryan wins his second victory at the Bobby Ball Memorial
USAC Indy Car race held in the Grandstand Arena
• 1964 - Broke ground for the newly commissioned Coliseum
• 1965 - The Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum opens to a production of
• 1967 - The Phoenix Roadrunners of the WHL become the first professional
team in Arizona and called the Coliseum home until 1996
• 1968 - Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, and the Doors all perform at the
• 1968 - The new NBA expansion team, the Phoenix Suns, find their home at
the Coliseum, later to be dubbed the Madhouse on McDowell
• 1970 - Elvis Presley kicks off his first tour after returning to live performing
to a sold out crowd of 13,000
• 1976 - The nation’s bicentennial symbol became the world’s largest paint when it was painted on the roof the Coliseum
• 1985 - The Arizona State Fair has their first attendance over one million people
• 1987 - Pope John Paul II visits Phoenix to speak with Native American representatives at the Coliseum
• 1993 - Nirvana kicks off their In Utero world tour at the Coliseum, this would be the band’s final tour
• 2004 - President George W. Bush hosts a rally at the Coliseum
• 2005 - The Coliseum sheltered 2,500 evacuees from New Orleans in the
wake of Hurricane Katrina
• 2008 - Then presidential candidate, Barack Obama, held a rally at the
Coliseum to a full house of 14,500 people
• 2012 - The Arizona State Fair Foundation was created to assist in raising
funds to help improvements on the grounds
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