Tempe's oldest park.
Tempe Beach Park was been entertaining locals for almost ninety years. Built in 1931, Tempe Beach Park is one of the oldest recreational parks in Tempe. The park established one of Arizona’s first Olympic-sized pools which accommodated many national swimming meets during the 1930’s. In 1934, an Open-Air Movie Theater was created and became a principal attraction of the park. In the 1920’s, before it was an official park, people utilized the Salt River to cool down from the Arizona heat. The base of the State Bridge became a popular gathering place for locals.
An official swimming pool at the beach was constructed in 1923. Unfortunately, the Tempe Beach Pool was segregated for twenty years with a "No Mexicans Allowed" policy. This policy was not explicitly stated however, but many Mexicans were simply turned away at the entrance and it was common knowledge that they were unwelcome to that facility. This unfair policy officially ended in 1946 after a campaign to desegregate the pool was started by Hispanic Tempe veterans who had just came back after fighting in World War II.
Councilmember Ben Arredondo and former Councilmember Joe Spracale recall fond memories of Tempe Beach Park from their youth (most likely 1950’s-1960’s era.) They claimed that the park was a gathering place for the whole community; a place where locals could sit and meet each other and just have a good time. They shared fond memories of little league and swimming at the beach. Tempe Beach Park was seen as a big recreational center and a fun hangout for the whole family. Due to the high capacity, the pool had to be drained three times a week for sanitary reasons. It was refilled by a local well.
Under the Rio Salado Project, a Tempe Town Lake was constructed next to the beach in the summer of 1999. In conjunction with the new Town Lake, Tempe Beach Park was completely renovated. The Tempe Town Lake and revamped Tempe Beach Park opened to the public on November, 7, 1999. On June 17, 2000, the Mayor and Council celebrated the official dedication ceremony for the renovated Tempe Beach Park.
The park is 25 acres and features pathways, bike paths, picnic areas, a 5,000 seat grassy lawn, Splash Playground, and a historic baseball field; to name a few of its many amenities. The park is home to roughly 75 individual events throughout the year including the Rock'n'Roll Marathon, the Fourth of July Celebration, the Ironman race, and the Circle K Tempe Music Festival to name a few. Tempe Beach Park and Tempe Town Lake receive roughly 2.4 million visitors each year. They have become an essential part of the Tempe economy as the surrounding businesses employ nearly 40,000 people and since the creation of the lake and revamping of the park in 1999, these institutions have brought in 1.5 billion dollars in revenue for the City of Tempe.
The Splash Playground was completed in May 2002 costing 1.5 million dollars; the bill was footed by The Rio Salado Foundation. The playground is an essential part of Tempe Beach Park attracting thousands of people each year and is a fun and safe way for kids to enjoy the water. The iconic cobblestone bleachers around the Tempe Beach Baseball Stadium were built in 1934. On January 7, 1985, the property became listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This historic baseball field is a popular place for baseball games, softball games, and occasionally carnival games are held on the field.