Many people know Peoria, Ariz., as a spring training destination as the Peoria Sports Complex is the home for the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners every March. Both teams are slated to play at this 12,882-seat facility through at least 2034. The Peoria Sports Complex opened in 1994, and it also plays host to minor league and fall league games later in the year.
This desert city is surrounded by the beautiful Sonoran Desert, one of North America’s largest deserts. It is known for its saguaros, large cacti that reach as high as 70 feet tall. Outdoors enthusiasts head to this city to take part in its amazing hiking, biking and horseback riding offerings. The sunsets in Peoria are stunning as well.
Peoria was first developed in the 1860s as an irrigation system was created at this time. Within a few years, 8,000 acres and a community were being cultivated. A new road was created in 1887 that ran between Peoria and Phoenix, a city of just a few thousand people at that time. Three years later, several residents who had made their way to Arizona from Peoria, Ill., named their new home town after their former city.
Peoria received a post office in 1888, and an 89-foot water tower was erected six years later. This social gathering place served as a symbol of civic pride for the young city. The city’s first school building opened in 1891. The Peoria Railroad Depot was built in 1895 to allow for train travel from Peoria to Phoenix and beyond. A Presbyterian church was dedicated in 1900.
Peoria was incorporated on June 7, 1954, around the time that air conditioning units started being mass produced. At that time, its population was just 1,925. However, the population would rise by at least 40 percent every decade since, ballooning to 154,065 in 2010. An amazing 316 percent jump was achieved from 1980 to 1990.
Those looking to get something to eat should head to the area surrounding the Peoria Sports Complex as this quarter mile is estimated to have more restaurants than any quarter mile in the country. There are also several hotels, stores and entertainment venues in this area.
Theatre enthusiasts head to Peoria to watch top shows at the Arizona Broadway Theatre. After first putting on a performance in 2005 in a pavilion at the Peoria Sports Complex, this top-notch performing arts organization now presents shows in a beautiful main stage space that offers seating for 470 people. The Peoria Center for the Performing Arts also plays host to amazing theatrical productions.
Those traveling to Peoria during holiday periods have several holiday celebrations to choose from. The All American Festival takes place every July 4 at the Peoria Sports Complex. Concerts, face painting, a foot-long hot dog eating contest and F-16 flyovers highlight this festival. The Oldtown Holiday Festival is held within a few days of Dec. 1 every year. Cookie decorating, caroling and a visit from Santa Claus highlight this celebration.