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Performing arts center being torn down for supermarket

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SUN CITY WEST, AZ (CBS5) -

Originally built as a marketing tool to bring people to Sun City West, the Sundome opened in September of 1980. In that first year, 110 different performers took the stage. With more than 7100 seats, it's the largest single-level theatre in the country.

"It was a beautiful facility, you would dress up and it was elegant. It had beautiful tile work and you'd put a donation in and your name would be on it," said Sun City West resident Jane Iannarilli.

Lawrence Welk, Bob Hope, Diana Ross, and Bob Dylan are just a few of the big names who have performed here. Actor/entertainer Joe Gallo was one of the last performers to take the stage.

"I loved it. It's probably one of the most beautiful facilities in the country. As far as indoor theaters go, it's one of the largest theaters that I've ever had the privilege of performing in," said Gallo.

But as a wider variety of performers were brought in, locals seemed to lose interest.

"Instead of doing pop and what I call symphony top-40 hits, they started playing more modern type programs, and with that, the audiences started to dwindle," said former Sundome manager Don Tuffs.

In just a few days, the heavy equipment will be brought in and the Sundome will become a memory, as a new strip mall anchored by Fry's supermarket will take its place.

"It's really devastating to see and hear that the facility is going to be torn down. It was so important to the development of this community, so important to the west side of the valley, and I think it's going to be missed," added Tuffs.

A former Sundome employee told CBS 5 that Fry's is considering setting up a corner of their new supermarket- dedicated to the old Sundome.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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