What a difference five years can make. In 2009, if you drove south on the I-10 freeway towards Tucson and looked to your right just after you passed the 202/San Tan Freeway interchange, you saw nothing but sprawling desert. Today, you’ll see the twelve stories of the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino rise where there once was nothing. North of that, there is now the Wild Horse Pass Phoenix Premium Outlet mall. As for the space in between the two? As of last week, it became the Wild Horse Pass Festival Park.
Festival Park is the latest venture by the Wild Horse Pass Casino to add more entertainment options to the Chandler/Ahwatukee area. The 5.6 acre venue is able to accommodate both concerts and outdoor festivals, such as last weekend’s inaugural Phoenix Bikefest and concerts by The Cult and Sammy Hagar.
In only 100 days, the undeveloped land between the Wild Horse Pass Casino and the Phoenix Premium Outlet mall was leveled, graded and treated so that the mini town that became the Phoenix Bikefest could exist. In the three days of the festival, approximately 20,000 guests were in attendance.
Bikers got to enter the venue right down its middle, as the entrance for those on motorbikes was a path that bisected Festival Park and included going right through the middle of the Festival’s Saloon. A variety of more than sixty vendors populated the grounds, including demo bike rides on Harley-Davidson, Suzuki, Yamaha, Indian and other brands.
Like all things new, there were some initial growing pains for the first event at Festival Park. It was discovered that, despite the dirt being treated, it still caused more dust than expected when the winds came up. Gravel will be laid down on the floor of the venue before the next event to combat that problem.
But for a first time event, the organizers were pleased. It was their hope that they succeeded in making Phoenix Bikefest a family friendly event.
As for Festival Park’s future, expect another Phoenix Bikefest next year as well as numerous other themed festivals throughout the fall, winter and spring. For concerts, Festival Park hopes to host large drawing acts that would overflow the 1600 seat Wild Horse Pass Casino’s Ovations LIVE! Showroom located next door.
With reserved seating, general admission and the addition of grandstands, which were not in place for The Cult and Sammy Hagar shows, it is expected that Festival Park could accommodate 15,000 people for a concert. Other than Sun Devil Stadium, this would make Festival Park the largest concert venue in the East Valley.
As with anything new, Festival Park is a work in progress. But it opens up another entertainment venue that prior to last week, didn’t exist in the East Valley. Given Wild Horse Pass’ success in their growth overall, a prosperous long run should be expected.