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Surprise, Arizona

Surprise is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, USA. The population was 30,848 at the 2000 census, however rapid growth has boosted the city's population to 85,914 by 2006, according to Census Bureau estimates. As such, it is the second fastest-growing municipality in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area (after Gilbert), and between 1990 and 2000, it was the sixth fastest-growing place among all cities and towns in Arizona.


The city was founded in 1938 by real estate developer and state legislator Homer C. Ludden, who named it after his hometown of Surprise, Nebraska. Although there were only a few houses and a gas station on the one-mile-square parcel of land when Ludden subdivided it to build inexpensive houses for agricultural workers, Surprise has experienced tremendous growth in the years since. It incorporated into a city in 1960.

Tens of thousands of retirees moved to the city in the 1990s and early 2000s to live in Sun City Grand, an age-restricted resort-like community, with homes built by the property development firm Del Webb. Surprise is about five miles northwest of Del Webb's original Sun City development and adjacent to Sun City West.

Sun City Grand has become a large contributor to the city's population, which more than septupled from 10,187 to about 75,000 in 2004. The city's population is now considerably larger than Ludden's hometown, which had a population of 44 in the 2000 United States Census.

Rapid growth has led city officials to estimate the population at over 103,000 as of 2007, a figure the city maintains in spite of more conservative population estimates by the Census Bureau. Thirty-two of the state's top 50 homebuilders cater to new homebuyers, who are attracted by the city's modestly-priced homes, its relative proximity to Phoenix, and by the property taxes, which the city claims are among the lowest in the state.


Surprise is located at (33.638632, -112.350434). It is about 20 miles northwest of Phoenix.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 69.5 square miles (180.0 km²), of which, 69.5 square miles (180.0 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.03%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 30,848 people, 12,484 households, and 9,725 families residing in the city. The population density was 443.9 people per square mile (171.4/km²). There were 16,260 housing units at an average density of 234.0/sq mi (90.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.97% White, 2.61% Black or African American, 0.43% Native American, 1.07% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 7.87% from other races, and 1.99% from two or more races. 23.29% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. In recent years, the racial makeup has varied due to the rapid growth of the city.

There were 12,484 households out of which 21.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.5% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.1% were non-families. 17.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.75 people.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.9% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 22.4% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 25.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was US$44,156, and the median income for a family was US$47,899. Males had a median income of US$33,079 versus US$26,347 for females. The per capita income for the city was US$21,451. About 5.6% of families and 8.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.

Law and government

Local government

Surprise is governed on the local level by Mayor Lyn Truitt and a six member City Council The mayor is elected at large, while the City Council members are elected from the six districts which they represent. All representatives serve four-year terms.


The city of Surprise voted to give a $240 million subsidy to Westcor for a retail and housing development. The subsidy has the distinction of being the largest single taxpayer subsidy in the history of Arizona. Currently the Goldwater Institute is engaged in a lawsuit with the City of Phoenix to put an end to corporate subsidies throughout the state. Both the Surprise and Phoenix subsidies (combine total of $340 million in taxpayer money) created enough public anger that the Arizona State Legislature passed a ban on corporate sales tax subsidies in Maricopa and Pinal counties.

Police force

The Surprise Police Department consists of four divisions:

  • ;Field Operations Division

Six squads of Patrol Officers, complemented by the Support Services Unit which includes K-9 Officers, Animal Control Officers, and Motor Officers. It is the largest division in the department.

  • ;Administrative Services Division

Consists of The Community Relations Unit, Training Unit, Public Information Unit, Records Unit, Recruiting Unit and Technical Services Unit.

  • ;Criminal Investigations Division

Includes Detectives, General and Special Investigations, the Special Assignment Unit (SAU), and Evidence Technician.

  • ;Technical Services Division

Consists of civilian employees and is supervised by a civilian.


The city is the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers baseball teams. These Major League Baseball teams use Surprise Stadium for their activities. The city also hosted a Golden Baseball League team in 2005, the Surprise Fightin' Falcons and the Recreation Campus ballpark. It also hosted Sportscenter 50 States in 50 Days segment on August 11,2005.

See also


External links

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