Rawhide, Gila River talking - East Valley Tribune: News

Rawhide, Gila River talking

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Posted: Saturday, December 11, 2004 6:02 am | Updated: 5:35 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The Gila River Indian Community and its development authority are in negotiations to relocate Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse to a spot just south of Ahwatukee Foothills near Interstate 10.

Sources close to the negotiations said the deal could be formalized by tribal leaders as early as Wednesday.

The 1880s faux Western town, known for its gunfight shows, true-to-era dirt roads and Old West storefronts, has operated in north Scottsdale for more than three decades.

The land on which Rawhide is located was sold in June to a development group for $46 million, and owner Jerry Hirsch has since publicly requested that communities across the Valley, state and even the West bid to relocate the operation by May.

The new Rawhide attraction would be on the west side of I-10, and south of Pecos Road. It would be part of the Wild Horse Pass development area, a 2,400-acre swath of desert that includes the Sheraton at Wild Horse Pass Resort, the Wild Horse Pass Casino and golf courses.

A tribal spokesman did not return calls, and tribal leaders could not be reached for comment. Rawhide spokesman and consultant Jason Rose would not confirm whether there was a planned meeting on Wednesday to discuss terms of the deal.

"I am going to refrain from commenting about Wednesday," Rose said. "As has been the case all along, I am not going to comment about where Rawhide might locate its new home until there is something definitive to report.

"I will say, however, that whether one is talking about Rawhide or any other business, it would be an honor and privilege to speak with the Gila River Indian Community."

A source close to the deal said the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority — an arm of the Gila tribe — and Rawhide executives have been negotiating for months.

In an August Ahwatukee Foothills News story, Wild Horse Pass Development Authority general manager Dale Gutenson said the area could one day house a theme park.

Sprawling over a prime piece of desert along Scottsdale Road just south of Pinnacle Peak Road, the 160-acre Old West-replica town is Scottsdale’s biggest tourist draw, attracting 600,000 visitors last year.

Hirsch told the Tribune in June that he plans to relocate the operation, from building facades to livestock, to a more rural location, where the land is cheaper and there is room for expansion.

Rawhide features a main street with 17 shops, 11 attractions and a steakhouse. Its eight venues include a 52,000-square-foot pavilion, rodeo grounds and grandstands, four separate cookout areas, a mission patio and indoor meeting space.

Rawhide officials have been tight-lipped over its future. Landowners in Queen Creek and Cave Creek pursued the operation, but their efforts didn’t work.

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