Before professional football, baseball, or basketball had even arrived in Arizona, Turf Paradise was thrilling crowds with horseracing. The state's first professional sports franchise, Turf Paradise opened its gates on January 7, 1956—just two years after businessman Walter Cluer had purchased 1,400 acres of barren desert to build the facility. Since Cluer, only a handful of owners have presided over Turf Paradise, and each has left their mark. For instance, in 2003, owner Jerry Simms built a state-of-the-art equine pool where horses can train or relax during a rousing game of equine Marco Polo. But horses aren't the only ones who have enjoyed improvements over the years. For its visitors, Turf Paradise boasts several dining areas, VIP clubs, and a grandstand, and at both of its entrances, the facility greets guests with stunning 90-foot marquees.