Indian Country Today
The Gila River Indian Community in southern Arizona continues to make key economic moves.
This year’s Arizona State Fair will be moving away from the fairgrounds in Phoenix to a temporary new location at Gila River's Wild Horse Pass near Chandler.
Authorities said dates are being finalized, but the fair usually is held in October.
“The Gila River Indian Community, along with the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority, is proud to be a partner in the time-honored celebration of the state Fair,” Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said in a statement.
In December, Phoenix Rising FC, Arizona's highest professional soccer team, announced it was moving to Wild Horse Pass and building a new stadium.
Before that, the tribe announced a business partnership with the NBA's Phoenix Suns and WNBA's Phoenix Mercury. The partnership includes a newly renovated courtside property called “Club Gila River” inside PHX Arena, the downtown Phoenix home to both teams.
Gila River introduced gaming chips and gaming table felts adorned with the logos of the Suns and Mercury at its gaming properties. The partnership also includes team branding on select hotel rooms owned by the tribe.
(Related: Arizona tribe best on pro basketball)
The tribe also has naming rights to Gila River Arena in Glendale, home to concerts and the NHL's Arizona Coyotes
Last year’s fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fairgrounds are currently being used for a vaccination site operated by Banner Health.
The Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board voted Thursday to approve the fair’s move to Wild Horse Pass.
Earlier in the day, fair officials toured the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and then hosted a public meeting.
“Safety has been our number one priority during the pandemic and we are prepared to carry on this legacy for all of Arizona in the most supportive way possible," Lewis said. Wild Horse Pass Development Authority "is more than capable to deliver a memorable state fair experience and we welcome Arizonans to come and enjoy themselves in our Community.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement that the fair “will be temporarily moved to a large, safe venue on the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority thanks to a gracious offer from the Gila River Indian Community.”
Ducey added that the State Fair grounds have been a vital location for mass testing and vaccine distribution and the temporary relocation allows the fair grounds to continue to be available for public health needs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.