Phoenix Trotting Park in Goodyear

Categories: Hidden Valley
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Photos by Benjamin Leatherman
Glimpses from the abandoned Trotter Park in Goodyear.
Ever wondered what this town might look like, post-apocalypse? The abandoned Phoenix Trotting Park racetrack in Goodyear is a pretty good preview -- and a pretty handy one if all those rumors of The Rapture happening in less than a week prove to be true.

Desiccated by the ravages of the past 50 years, all that remains of the abandoned racetrack (off Interstate 10 on the edge of Goodyear) is its ginormous grandstand that looks like it survived a massive explosion and or served as a movie set.

And oddly enough, it's done both.

Phoenix Trotting Park's lifespan was tragically short. It was built in the early 1960s, and debuted as a gambling and entertainment destination for horse race junkies in 1965.

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The interior of the grandstand at Phoenix Trotting Park.

​One of the proprietors and visionaries behind the facility was James Dunnigan, the renowned New York horseracing impresario, who ultimately dropped $10 million (about $7 million more than its original budget) to build the park.

And while Dunnigan could anticipate which horse would win a race, he failed to foresee the track's poor attendance.

More than 12,000 people showed up for opening day, but the track was hard to get to (in the in 60s, the I-10 didn't reach Goodyear), and after two-and-half seasons, the park closed.

The grandstand has remained mostly vacant since the '60s, save for the flocks of birds that nest in the rafters, as well as the numerous human visitors that have braved the dangerous structure for impromptu parties and graffiti sessions.

Today, visiting Phoenix Trotting Park is a relatively dangerous, treacherous, and illegal journey.

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Some the broken glass and other damage decorating the grandstand area.
​Those hearty enough to slip past the broken fencing marked with many "no trespassing" signs and other ramshackle barriers surrounding the facility will encounter massive amounts of broken glass and shattered porcelain, as well as twisted and rusted metal that could easily injure someone who's footing ain't sure. There are also large piles of petrified bird poop scattered throughout, which are surely a biohazard.

The building itself is a spooky maze of stairways, corridors, ladders, and tunnels that allow daredevils to climb all the way up to the grandstand's roof.

Then there are all bones of dead birds populating the place. Some of these remains are the remnants of a large explosion that was staged back in 1997 while shooting the Charlie Sheen movie No Code of Conduct.

The action flick, which starred the Ma-Sheen as a corrupt cop, featured several scenes filmed at the racetrack, including a huge pyrotechnic display that enveloped the building and destroyed the glass -- roasting dozens of pigeons in the process (much to the chagrin of the peeps at PETA).

The flick went straight to video while the pigeons went straight to bird heaven.


The Phoenix Trotting Park continues to stand, offering travelers zooming past on the I-10 going to and from Los Angeles an unusual landmark and roadside attraction.

Trotter Park is located at 1068 North Cotton Lane in Goodyear.

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The rear of Phoenix Trotting Park.

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23 comments
sgirulat
sgirulat

Hi folks!

I hope to work with area participation to restore/revitalize the facility if we can get the owner's approval.   Love to hear your thoughts:  i.e.  worth doing (use for community and 'welcome center' efforts..great plan and cost effective)  or 'tear it down'......   thanks...s

Cassy
Cassy

I was there today.. That place is so cool!Yeah its messy but its a really cool place to check out!I saw people walking down the canal and just waved at us.. Nobody cared that we were looking around because we were looking not just getting into trouble there!

Sid
Sid

The issue with the explosions for No Code of Conduct wasn't about the pigeons, it was about the protected species birds that were also roasted. Did you know the film's director was Bret Michaels? He had to pay off the Audobon Society or something. http://www.urbanwildlifesociet...

Loosecannonsbluesband
Loosecannonsbluesband

Which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction - I'd like to have a desert party out there!  Got a band, a generator, PA and lights - that's all I need.

wayne
wayne

I thought it was also used as a greyhound dog track? 

teknik1200
teknik1200

 it's hard to believe it's been abandoned for so long and not been put to use.

It reminds me of the old abandoned train station in Detroit.  but that station was in the middle of the city.http://www.seedetroit.com/pict...

Connor
Connor

Funny you guys would cover this place! I was just there two weeks ago. Loved every minute of it. 

Bill
Bill

The taxonomy of racetracks was kind of interesting back in the day. Each county was allotted one regular horse track, one trotting, and one greyhound. In Maricopa County, the only one left is Turf Paradise at 19th Ave and Bell. In addition to the closed Goodyear trotting track, our greyhound track at 38th Street and Washington closed a couple of years ago. If you're going north on I-17 through Black Canyon City you can see the Yavapai County dog track (long-closed) on the west side of the freeway.

Dhuiz
Dhuiz

 No, but it was used as a park and swap one time. And there was talk of the state fair being moved out there. That would make too much sense though.

Dhuiz
Dhuiz

 I heard that one reason it has not been updated and used for other things, is the cost of remodeling it and also it has a lot of asbestos in it. In order for them to use it in the movie, they had to do a lot of clean up work and do some special coating to keep the asbestos from spreading to the outside area. I don't know how true that is, it is what was being said at the time the movie was being made.

Chrisindenver
Chrisindenver

 Make too much sense? Lol. That's a stupid idea. Oh yeah, let's drive 30 miles outside of the metro area with gasoline at $3.70 a gallon, just to ride the midway and eat junk food.

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