Springerville, Ariz. – You see the pink dome from the State Highway 260 about 15 miles from the west as you head into the valley. If you hadn’t been told what to expect, you’d think its intent was industrial.
In fact, it’s the Round Valley Dome – Home of the Elks. Residents of Springerville and Eagar – towns about 3 miles apart that share a high school – will tell you it’s the only prep dome in the U.S.
It’s pink, or perhaps salmon, and it was built a couple of decades ago thanks to a big boost from Tucson Light and Power, which has a plant not far away.
But this pink spaceship has become more of a white elephant in some ways. That’s what Brad, who works for the local phone company, tells me as I wait for my food at Java Blues restaurant.
It’s not being utilized in the way it was billed – as a home to not only high school football and track and other sports, but as a regional center for major concerts and tractor pulls and more.
And it’s hard to justify the expense to the school district when the state is cutting back on education to balance its budget. The local tax burden is big, Brad says.
Just outside the dome, I talk to a Round Valley grad who’s cruising around on his BMX bike with his young daughter, buzzing past closely on her scooter. He’s obviously proud of the dome, but a bit skeptical of its future. The color’s a little weird, the black T-shirted man says, but the dome is nice. It's our landmark.