Is the Big Surf water park permanently closed? What we know

Big Surf Water Park, home to what is believed to be the nation’s first wave pool, appears to be up for sale.

As Phoenix New Times reported, the 20-acre property in Tempe is on the market, and its owners are selling park gear in a “Big Surf liquidation auction” through Surplus Asset Management.

The water park, at McClintock Drive, just north of the 202 loop, opened in October 1969 and has had different owners over the decades. Big Surf has not been open since summer 2019.

Here’s what we know so far about the possible sale of the water park.

For subscribers: How the “Original Wave Pool” Made Arizona a Surfing Destination

Why is Big Surf sold?

Bob Pena, Big Surf’s general manager who has worked at the park for more than three decades, told The Arizona Republic in July 2021 that the site’s 2020 closure due to the coronavirus pandemic was the park’s first season of closure. for summer.

The owners, Inland Ocean, have also decided to remain closed in 2021.

Pena told The Republic at the time that the property may be considering “different options” and whether the park will reopen for the 2022 season will be up to them.

The Republic has contacted Pena for more information.

Continued: Another new water and surf park is in the works in Arizona. Here’s what we know

Big Surf has the first wave pool in the United States

Big Surf opened on October 24, 1969 and billed itself as “the world’s first authentic indoor surfing facility”.

The wave generator that made surfing hundreds of miles from the ocean possible was created by Philip Dexter over 50 years ago. Pena told The Republic that the wave pool still uses its original components to generate waves.

Dexter, who was inspired to recreate the waves he saw in the Pacific Ocean, spent several years building prototype wave generators in his backyard and pool hall in Phoenix. His “apparatus and method for producing waves” was patented on October 21, 1969, and earned him an induction into the World Waterpark Association Hall of Fame.

In 2013, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers named Big Surf a historic landmark of mechanical engineering, calling it “the first wave pool in North America to consistently generate 3-5 foot overhanging waves suitable for surfing”. John Hauskins was also credited with designing the system that created the mechanics needed for the wave generator.

Although the Big Surf rides haven’t been open for several years, there have been a number of events at the site, including summer concerts last year and the Merchantile Market bazaar on the car park in December.

The water park brought not only big waves to Arizona, but also several massive musical acts. Elton John and the Beach Boys are among the artists who have performed there over the decades.

Brew Ha Ha Productions’ Punk in Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival is set to take place at Big Surf on March 19.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kimirobin and Instagram @ReporterKiMi.

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