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The Sundome – gone, but not forgotten!


Don Tuffs

Mention the “Sundome” and it brings a smile of recognition to the faces of long-time area residents, and a questioning look to recent newcomers. The Sundome Center for the Performing Arts played a major role in the entertainment life of Sun City West for more than 30 years.


As part of our 40th Anniversary celebration, the Recreation Centers of Sun City West has invited Don Tuffs, who managed the Sundome in its early years, to share his experiences at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 4 at the Lecture Hall, 19803 R.H. Johnson Blvd., Sun City West. 


As Vice-President of Marketing for the Webb Corp, Tuffs tried to convince John Meeker to build two, smaller auditoriums of different sizes, but Meeker’s mind was made up! The Sun Bowl that he had built in Sun City regularly played to crowds of upwards of 7,000 residents, and he wanted to put that number indoors in air-conditioned comfort in his new community of Sun City West. Construction of a building of that size was an enormous challenge for the Webb Corp. as the interior was nearly the size of two football fields, side-by-side!


The Sundome

Don had booked performers for the Sun Bowl, and took over the role of managing the Sundome Center for the Performing Arts upon its completion. He has many amusing, behind-the-scenes stories to share about his experiences with the entertainers. 


Don also oversaw the transition of the Sundome to Arizona State University ownership in 1984, and will explain the reasons for it. ASU managed the facility for 20 years before stage limitations made it difficult to book the latest Broadway shows. The number of shows gradually declined and audience numbers dwindled, leading to the Sundome’s eventual sale to a developer.  

  1. Kathy Jones says:

    Don, you might not remember me, it has been long time since we met. I am Kathy Jones, the last president of SPAA. I was president when we closed it down. When is your lecture going to be held? I would love to come.

  2. Multimedia says:

    Hello Kathy, Don isn’t likely to see your comment here on the Rec Centers website, so we wanted to let you know that his lecture is 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 4 at the Lecture Hall, 19803 R.H. Johnson Blvd., Sun City West. Enjoy!

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