ASU to sell Sundome Center for $2 million

Constructed in 1980 the ASU Sundome Center for the Performing Arts has been approved for sale by the Arizona Board of Regents for $2 million to a firm that intends to tear down the structure and rebuild on the land in Sun City West. The now-vacant building has hosted artists such as Bob Hope, Lawrence Welk and Bob Dylan. (Photo by Jessie Wardarski)

The sun set on the ASU Sundome Center for the Performing Arts after the Arizona Board of Regents approved a $2 million offer Thursday for the sale of the vacant facility to expand University real estate.

ABOR approved the offer from a Scottsdale-based retail real estate company, Brown Grace 6 Investments, LLC, but it is still a pending sale, said Morgan Olsen, the ASU executive vice treasurer and chief financial officer.

The building is about 116,000 square feet in Sun City West.

The sale’s profit will go toward expanding and acquiring new campus properties, Olsen said.

He said there are not specific ASU properties for which the funds will be allocated.

The ASU Sundome is being sold “as is,” and the buyer will be responsible for the demolition of the building, according to ABOR documents.

The Sundome’s maintenance cost ASU an estimated $60,000 a year, Olsen said.

ABOR Chair Bob McLendon said the center wasn’t useful to the University.

“It was an eyesore for the community over there and was just sitting there,” McLendon said.

He said the sale will benefit both communities.

“As far as I see, it is a win-win situation,” McLendon said.  “It makes good business not only for Arizona State University, but for the (Sun City West) community.”

Assistant Vice President of University Real Estate Development Steven Nielsen said the building was never able to fully function as a performance arts center and ASU tried to sell the property for seven years.

“It wasn’t permeable to use valuable academic dollars to fund a performance facility not even close to our campus,” Nielsen said.

The history between Sundome and ASU began when Del E. Webb Development gifted the property in 1984 for $1, Nielsen said.

In 2005, ASU gifted the property to Maricopa County for $1, Nielsen said.

Maricopa County gave the building back to ASU in 2009 when it could no longer operate the building as a performing arts facility, according to an ABOR meeting document.

Previously, the highest offer was from a Sun City West church with a $50,000 for the property, Nielsen said.

The University had to turn down the offer because it was not fair market value, Nielsen said.

He said the building was difficult to sell at the fair market value, and buyers couldn’t use the facility because of its dated design.

The Sundome has 7,000 seats on a single level, which didn’t allow all attendees to view the stage, he said.

“In its heyday this was an incredible performance venue, but the reality is the design is virtually obsolete,” Nielsen said.  “It’s unfortunate that the facility can’t be buyable.”

 

Reach the reporter at thaniab@asu.edu