The Payson Event Center construction started in March 1997 with volunteers from around the community helping clear the six acres of town property.
By that time, the old rodeo grounds at Rumsey Park had neighborhoods growing up around it and a busy scheduled filled with ballgames and other events throughout the summer. It was also the site of a variety of activities throughout the year.
The Payson Town Council voted unanimously in January 1997 to move the rodeo arena from the park to the south edge of town. The vote was made, even though the group -- the Arena Relocation Team -- did not have paving, grading and drainage plans that met town code.
Town officials had wanted to move the arena for years, but had not been able to come up with the cash. The relocation group was formed by community leaders to get the job done by using volunteer labor and services and as little town money as possible.
The Payson Rodeo has been held all around the community in its 124-year history. The first, held in 1884, was in the mid-town pasture that later became the site of the lumber mill and is now the Sawmill Crossing shopping center.
Later, it was moved to Main Street itself. Spectators circled their cars and wagons into a makeshift arena for the competitors. It was moved further to the west and held in the then open area that is now largely occupied by the Payson Golf Course and Green Valley Park. Another site of the rodeo is where Bashas' now stands.