Surprise, Arizona

Coordinates: 33°37′50″N 112°22′00″W / 33.63056°N 112.36667°W / 33.63056; -112.36667
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Surprise, Arizona
The Surprise City Hall in January 2010
The Surprise City Hall in January 2010
Official seal of Surprise, Arizona
Location in Maricopa County, Arizona
Location in Maricopa County, Arizona
Surprise is located in Arizona
Surprise is located in the United States
Coordinates: 33°37′50″N 112°22′00″W / 33.63056°N 112.36667°W / 33.63056; -112.36667
Country United States
State Arizona
 • MayorSkip Hall (R)
 • Total110.52 sq mi (286.25 km2)
 • Land110.30 sq mi (285.68 km2)
 • Water0.22 sq mi (0.57 km2)
Elevation1,385 ft (422 m)
 • Total143,148
 • RankUS: 189th
 • Density1,297.78/sq mi (501.08/km2)
Time zoneUTC−7 (MST (no DST))
ZIP codes
85374, 85378–85379, 85387–85388
Area code623
FIPS code04-71510
GNIS feature ID2412016[2]

Surprise is a city in Maricopa County, in the U.S. state of Arizona. The population was 143,148 at the 2020 census,[3] up from 117,517 in 2010 and just 30,848 in 2000.

Surprise is the spring training location of the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers baseball teams.


The city was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler. Statler was the daughter of another Arizona pioneer, Charles Gillett who helped found Glendale, specifically as a temperance community. Gillett owned much land in Glendale as well as the Verde Valley.[4][5] Surprise officials previously thought the city was founded by Statler's husband, real estate developer and state legislator Homer C. Ludden, but in 2010 property records were discovered which listed Statler owning the land before she met Ludden.[6] Modern records often state that Statler named her land Surprise as she "would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much,” with her daughter backing this claim.[7] Although this fact is contested since it was common for pioneers to name their settlements after their hometowns and Ludden hailed from Surprise, Nebraska, possibility influencing the name of the town.[8]

When Surprise was subdivided to build inexpensive houses for agricultural workers, there were only a few houses and a gas station on the one-square-mile (1.6 km) parcel of land. Since then, the town has experienced tremendous growth.[9] It incorporated as a city in 1960. The original townsite is bounded by Greenway Road on the south, El Mirage Road on the east, Bell Road on the north, and Dysart Road on the west.[10]

Surprise's City Hall is located on the site of Luke Air Force Base's former auxiliary airfield No. 3.[11] The outline of the former runways can still be seen from aerial photos today.[12][13]

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 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Del Webb's original Sun City development and adjacent to Sun City West.


Surprise is between 20 and 30 miles (32 and 48 km) northwest of Phoenix. It is bordered to the northeast by Peoria, to the east by unincorporated Sun City West and Sun City, to the southeast by El Mirage, to the south by Glendale, and to the west by Buckeye and unincorporated Wittmann.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 110.5 square miles (286 km2), of which 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2), or 0.20%, are water.[1]


Historical population
2022 (est.)154,198[14]7.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]
Surprise, Arizona – Racial and ethnic composition
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 2000[16] Pop 2010[17] Pop 2020[18] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 22,136 83,677 94,856 71.76% 71.20% 66.26%
Black or African American alone (NH) 744 5,648 7,404 2.41% 4.81% 5.17%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 95 543 786 0.31% 0.46% 0.55%
Asian alone (NH) 321 2,884 3,771 1.04% 2.45% 2.63%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 15 211 310 0.05% 0.18% 0.22%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 18 156 591 0.06% 0.13% 0.41%
Mixed Race or Multi-Racial (NH) 335 2,674 7,057 1.09% 2.28% 4.93%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 7,184 21,724 28,373 23.29% 18.49% 19.82%
Total 30,848 117,517 143,148 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

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 inhabitants per square mile (171.4/km2). There were 16,260 housing units at an average density of 234.0 per square mile (90.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.0% White, 2.6% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 7.9% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. 23.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. In recent years, the racial makeup has varied due to the rapid expansion 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 $44,156, and the median income for a family was $47,899. Males had a median income of $33,079 versus $26,347 for females. The per capita income for the city was $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.

In 2010, Surprise had a population of 117,517. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 71.2% non-Hispanic white, 5.1% black or African American, 0.7% Native American, 2.6% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 0.1% non-Hispanic reporting some other race, 3.8% two or more races, and 18.5% Hispanic or Latino.[citation needed]


Largest employers[edit]

According to the state of Arizona's 2023 COG employer database,[19] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Dysart Unified School District 1,760
2 City of Surprise 1,170
3 Wal-Mart 890
4 Sun Health Foundation 570
5 Fry's Food and Drug 550
6 Costco 370
7 The Home Depot 300
8 McDonald's 270
9 Safeway 240
10 Maricopa County 230

Arts and culture[edit]

Maricopa County's northwest regional library, a $5.5 million, 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) library, is located in Surprise. Surprise has two other city library branches, one in the original townsite and one in north Surprise.[20]

Surprise has a variety of public art installations across the city. Many public installations have been in collaboration with WHAM community art center which is also in Surprise.[21]

The city has several holiday events throughout the year, such as their Easter Eggstavaganza[22] and Sparkling Surprise Christmas event, which are both hosted at the city's recreation campus.[23] They also host several smaller community engagement events throughout the year such as Sundays in the park and lunchtime theater.[24]


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 and is the home city for a team in the Arizona Fall League, the Surprise Saguaros. It also hosted ESPN SportsCenter's 50 States in 50 Days segment on August 11, 2005.

As part of the city's Recreation Campus, Surprise is also home to the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex.[25] The complex hosts various professional events throughout the year, including the Outback Champion Series tour, a USTA Pro Circuit event, and many USTA regional and sectional events. In 2009 the complex was chosen as the site for the Fed Cup Quarter Final between the U.S. and Argentina, and also that year it was chosen as the location for the first United States National Pickleball championships.

Panorama of Surprise Stadium
Panorama of Surprise Stadium

Parks and recreation[edit]

The city has a 10,562-square-foot (981.2 m2) Aquatics Center as well as the smaller Hollyhock community pool.[26]


Surprise is governed on the local level by a mayor and a six-member city council.[27] The mayor is elected at large, while the council members are elected from the six districts which they represent. All city council elections are officially nonpartisan. All representatives serve four-year terms. The current mayor is Skip Hall.


The Dysart Unified School District serves the city of Surprise.[28] Charter schools such as Arizona Charter Academy, Paradise Education Center, and Legacy Traditional School are also located in the area.

Rio Salado College, a part of the Maricopa County Community College District, has a satellite building in Surprise.

Ottawa University–Arizona is a private, non-profit, Christian four-year university with a campus in Surprise's Civic Center Campus. Opened in Fall 2017, the University has grown from 300 students to nearly 900 students in Fall 2019 and boasts over 20 varsity level athletic teams. In 2019, OUAZ opened a 76,000 ft2 dormitory with 308 beds as well as a 26,000 sf student union with a fully equipped kitchen and dining facility, student lounge, team shop, conference areas and board room as well as the 35,000 ft2, three-story O'Dell Center for Athletics.



Mission Home Cemetery

Surprise is served by Loop 303 and U.S. Route 60. U.S. Route 60 leads southeast to Phoenix and northwest to Wickenburg and Las Vegas (via U.S. Route 93). Surprise is also served by many major arterial roads.


The Surprise Police Department consists of a field operations division, administrative services division, criminal investigations division, and technical services division.[29]

Mission Home Cemetery[edit]

The Mission Home Cemetery, also known as the Sleeping Bride Cemetery, is a historic cemetery located in Surprise.[30][31]


  1. ^ a b "2021 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Arizona". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Surprise, Arizona
  3. ^ a b "Surprise city, Arizona: 2020 DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171)". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  4. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form". November 23, 2005. Retrieved April 20, 2024.
  5. ^ Gillett, Charles E. (1929). Pioneering. Elgin, Illinois: Brethren Publishing House.
  6. ^ Gardiner, Dustin (August 28, 2010). "Historians: Flora Mae Statler, not husband, founded Surprise". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  7. ^ "About Surprise". SurpriseAZ.Gov. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  8. ^ Cohen, Paul Hubbs (April 30, 2005). "Surprise — How town was named". Retrieved April 20, 2024.
  9. ^ Official Website – Surprise, Arizona Archived August 14, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Moving to Phoenix: Where Should You Live?". TripSavvy.
  11. ^ "Map of Phoenix, AZ in 1954 | Pastmaps". Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  12. ^ [1]>
  13. ^ Cranmer, Hal (November 5, 2019). "The History of Surprise AZ". A Paradise for Parents. Retrieved September 23, 2023.
  14. ^ "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2022". Retrieved April 14, 2024.
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  16. ^ "P004 Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2000: DEC Summary File 1 – Surprise city, Arizona". United States Census Bureau.
  17. ^ "P2 Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Surprise city, Arizona". United States Census Bureau.
  18. ^ "P2 Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Surprise city, Arizona". United States Census Bureau.
  19. ^ "Business, Jobs, and Industry Explorer". Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  20. ^ "Surprise Public Library". Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  21. ^ "Art in Public Places". Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  22. ^ "Spring Eggstravaganza". Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  23. ^ "Sparking Surprise". Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  24. ^ "Events and Programs". Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  25. ^ "Tennis & Racquet Complex – Official Website – Surprise, Arizona".
  26. ^ "Municipal Pools". Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  27. ^ "Surprise City Council – Official Website – Surprise, Arizona".
  28. ^ "Municipalities and Schools within the PUSD." (Archive) Peoria Unified School District. Retrieved on October 18, 2012.
  29. ^ "Surprise Police Department – Official Website – Surprise, Arizona".
  30. ^ "Who's buried in Surprise". AZCentral.
  31. ^ "Mission Home Cemetery". American Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project. Neal Du Shane. December 26, 2011.

External links[edit]