Marinette Center, 9860 W. Union Hills Drive, was the seventh — and last — recreation center constructed in Sun City by the Del Webb Development Company.
Located on the northeast corner of 99th Avenue and Union Hills Drive, the center officially opened to residents in 1979. But behind its history lies one of the more contentious chapters in an otherwise serene Sun City story.
In the late-1970s, DEVCO officials began constructing homes north of Bell Road in what is commonly referred to as Phase 3. Original marketing materials claimed a new recreation center would be built on 99th Avenue and Union Hills Drive to serve those living in Phase 3.
A few years earlier, however, DEVCO officials constructed the community’s largest, most elaborate — and most expensive — recreation center. Bell Center, 16820 N. 99th Ave., which opened in 1976, resulting in major cost overruns for DEVCO — so much so that company leaders quietly canceled plans to build the new proposed center for Phase 3.
New homebuyers, as expected, were not happy when they found out about the company’s intentions. A loud outcry forced DEVCO to appease angry residents by quickly constructing a small, but functional, center on the original site earmarked for a recreational facility.
Compared to Sun City’s other recreation centers, the new facility was merely a shell of a building that left much to be desired in terms of landscaping, amenities and personality. The result was a clear reflection of DEVCO’s business strategy at the time — the company was wrapping up its involvement in Sun City and had already turned its full attention to building its newest community, Sun City West.
Originally called Union Hills Recreation Center, the facility’s name was later changed to Marinette so to avoid confusion with Union Hills Country Club, 9860 W. Lindgren Ave., located a short distance away.
The 8,000-square-foot rec center left much to be desired when it initially opened — two meeting rooms, four tennis courts and a swimming pool heated by bottled gas and only usable during warmer months.
Once DEVCO officials handed the center over to residents in 1980, Recreation Centers of Sun City officials immediately began making upgrades. Additional buildings, club rooms, a kitchen, lighted bocce courts and a jogging track were added over the next 10 years.
Today, Marinette Center boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center, an outdoor spa, rubberized walking track, pickleball and basketball courts.