May 22, 2023 - Business

Fans bid final farewell to Metrocenter before demolition begins

The shuttered entrance of a mall with the words a balloon-covered display featuring the words Metro Center.

The west entrance to Metrocenter at the mall's farewell party on Sunday. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

Generations worth of Arizonans came to pay their final respects to Metrocenter on Sunday.

State of play: The festivities included a wall where people could write thoughts and goodbyes, a balloon-covered homage for people to pose with for photos, food trucks, classic cars, a costume contest, live music, and — of course — ample references to "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," partially filmed there in 1988.

Zoom in: Al Schneider, who grew up near 35th and Dunlap avenues, watched Metrocenter go up and hung out there often, playing video games at Aladdin's Castle and cruising the mall with friends.

  • "Nothing but good times. So I thought I better come by and check it out one last time," Schneider, 58, told Axios.
  • "I kind of got choked up because this is part of our lives … This was awesome that we had the opportunity to come out and look to see it, say goodbye," Phoenix resident Bobby Hernandez said.
  • Some members of younger generations still had nostalgia for the mall. Justin Dicken, 21, and Danny Dicken, 22, came dressed as Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Theodore "Ted" Logan.
Two young men pose in front of a building.
Danny Dicken, left, and Justin Dicken pose in front of Metrocenter while dressed as the title characters from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

Between the lines: Phoenix City Council member Ann O'Brien, whose office sponsored the farewell party, grew up going to the mall.

  • O'Brien even worked there at Park Lane Hosiery in high school and at Broadway in college.
  • She told Axios she'd never seen "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," but promised to watch it at the final showing at Metrocenter's Harkins Theaters.
People write their memories of Metrocenter on a board in front of the shuttered mall. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

Flashback: Metrocenter opened in 1973 as the largest shopping mall in Arizona and Southwestern U.S.

  • The decline of shopping malls caught up with Metrocenter in 2020, when it closed for good.

Jeremy's thought bubble: Metrocenter was the mall of my youth growing up in North Phoenix, and I spent a lot of time there.

  • I'm old enough to remember watching the ice skaters from the overhead bridge before they turned the rink into an arcade, and when Castles N' Coasters was still called Golf N' Stuff.
  • I couldn't help writing a final farewell to the mall of my youth: "Metrocenter was a part of my life, a part of growing up in this city. Phoenix won't be the same without it."
A man takes a selfie in front of a mall with a sign behind him that says Metrocenter.
Jeremy gets a final selfie in front of Metrocenter, the mall of his youth. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios
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