By Bridgette Crosby
Copper Area News
Mark Schultz has been riding bulls his entire life and has had his share of broken bones, but when it comes to real life, Shultz thinks broken dreams are worse. “You have to believe in your dreams and just go for it,” Schultz stated.
Schultz has convinced the Apache Junction City Council to support his dream to build an arena at 2341 N. Apache Trail, next to the popular restaurant, the Hitching Post. According to Schultz, the owner of the Hitching Post came up with the idea and asked for Schultz’s help to make it become a reality. Schultz jumped at the chance because he too, had dreamed of creating a private local venue for bull riding events besides the rodeo grounds owned by the city.
“This is something that could really benefit the local community, including surrounding businesses in Apache Junction and even Pinal County,” said Schultz. “There are so many bull riders in the East Valley – in Gilbert, Queen Creek, Apache Junction and San Tan Valley and even further east up in Superior, Globe and San Carlos. This could be something that would attract not only local residents who are looking for something to do, but it would also be a big hit with winter visitors.”
Schultz also stated that bull riders would be invited to compete from all over the state and country and that he hopes to have local sponsors and sponsorships that would support events and riders. As for the stock, Schultz says he already has 30-35 healthy bulls lined up from a reputable stock company.
“The bulls are ready and waiting,” Schultz smiled. “Now we just need riders.”
Bull riding, especially during the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo which has been held annually in Apache Junction for the last 50 years, is one of the most popularly attended events during rodeos. Schultz hopes that having a private arena will help keep the sport alive an area of Arizona that is still populated by rodeo fans.
Economically, having a bull riding arena in Apache Junction would provide a boost for local businesses and even Pinal County. Schultz says that summer would be slower due to the heat, but winter would be a time for opportunity and fun.
“We plan to hold events every weekend, and really, it’s chance to improve the local economy by offering something that people want to do and want to see,” said Schultz. “It’s a good experience for families and kids, too.”
Schultz presented his idea to the Apache Junction City Council with the support of the community and even his own daughters, 11-year-old Haylee, who is active in rodeo and has worked her way up from mutton busting to riding steers and 10-year-old Haydin, who is active in gardening and gymnastics.
“Rodeo is part of our western heritage. Having a venue like this will be good for our community, and for our county,” said Schultz. “I’m just thankful for the support of the community and the city council so that we can turn this dream into a reality.”
The arena is currently under construction and is slated to be open soon.